Health Desk-19 March, 2019: To replace a failing heart valve, cardiologists insert a replacement through a patient’s groin and thread it all the way to the heart, manoeuvring it into the site of the old valve.
The procedure, called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), has been reserved mostly for patients so old and sick they might not survive open-heart surgery. Now, two large clinical trials show that TAVR is just as useful in younger, healthier patients.
It might even be better, offering lower risks of disabling strokes and death, compared to open-heart surgery. Cardiologists say it will likely change the standard of care for most patients with failing aortic valves.
In open-heart surgery, a patient’s ribs are cracked apart and the heart is stopped to insert the new aortic valve.
With TAVR, the only incision is a small hole in the groin where the catheter is inserted. Most patients are sedated, but awake through the procedure, and recovery takes just days, not months, as is often the case following the usual surgery.
The results “shift our thinking from asking who should get TAVR to why should anyone get surgery,” said Dr Howard Herrmann, director of interventional cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania.
The studies are to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.