TAVR, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, used to be only for the sickest patients who were too frail to undergo open heart surgery. Now, Dr. Roi Altit, an interventional cardiologist at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, says the procedure is available to nearly all patients with faulty aortic valves. The FDA has now approved the minimally invasive procedure for low risk patients who want to avoid the risks of surgery.
Dr. Altit says two studies have proven that TAVR is better than surgery for a patient during and after the procedure. It has fewer complication risks with a shorter hospitalization, it also benefits the patients 6-months and a year after the procedure. Patients who had TAVR suffered fewer strokes and heart attacks afterward, and were less likely to require another trip to the hospital than those people who had open heart surgery to replace the valve.
Dr. Altit says it's quite an exciting time in his field, because more patients can now be offered the less invasive and more effective procedure. He says while not everyone is a candidate for this minimally invasive procedure, offering it to younger and healthier patients is a real step forward that will save patients time and money.
While the FDA has approved this new indication, it's always smart for patients to check with their insurance companies to ensure the procedure is covered.