Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a type of minimally invasive heart procedure. Doctors use it to replace your aortic valve when it stops opening properly, a condition called aortic valve stenosis.
Doctors may recommend TAVR for people who have a high risk of surgical complications. They may also use it for people who can’t have open-heart surgery. Each patient’s team of heart specialists will decide together whether TAVR is the right treatment for them.
What Is Aortic Valve Stenosis?
Aortic valve stenosis, also called aortic stenosis, happens when the heart’s aortic valve narrows. When the valve narrows, it can’t open fully, blocking blood flow from your heart to the rest of your body. Aortic stenosis can cause symptoms like:
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Shortness of breath
It can also cause heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
Is TAVR Right for You?
Your doctor may recommend TAVR to you if you have aortic stenosis that causes symptoms like the ones above. For instance, that may include people who are considered at risk of complications from open surgery. It may also be an option for people with a valve that was previously inserted to replace the aortic valve, but isn’t functioning well anymore.
While TAVR is minimally invasive surgery, it still carries a risk of complications. These may include:
- Arrhythmias (heart rhythm abnormalities)
- Complications with blood vessels
- Heart attack
- Issues with the replacement valve, like the valve leaking or slipping out of place
- Kidney disease
If you have aortic stenosis but can’t have surgery, TAVR can improve your life. This type of surgery may relieve the symptoms of aortic valve stenosis and improve your overall health. It can also reduce the risk of death.
After TAVR, your doctor may recommend that you make healthy lifestyle changes. These can include eating a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking.
Am I Eligible for TAVR?
Only your medical team can determine if you’re eligible for TAVR. You may be a good candidate for it if you have severe symptoms from aortic stenosis that doctors can’t treat with open aortic valve replacement.
Talk with your doctor or call the Heart Valve Center to determine if you are a candidate.