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Heartfelt Reunion for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Patients


Just one week before Mercy General Hospital marks its 100th Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), those who have already had the new heart procedure celebrated the better quality of life they’re experiencing since the surgery.

TAVR is an innovative heart valve procedure for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are considered high risk or inoperable for open heart surgery. Aortic stenosis is a condition that occurs when calcium deposits on the aortic valve causes critical narrowing that obstructs blood flow and forces the heart to pump harder. This eventually leads to symptoms that may include fatigue, fainting, shortness of breath and chest pain. Aortic stenosis can decrease life expectancy to less than five years and hampers functional ability.

During the TAVR procedure, the valve is crimped onto a catheter over a balloon. The catheter (a long, thin, flexible tube), is then inserted through the femoral artery in the groin and tracked to the heart for implantation. When the valve is positioned inside the faulty aortic valve, the balloon is inflated and the valve is precisely positioned.

TAVR patients, family members and friends were reunited with Mercy General Hospital physicians, nurses and staff during a TAVR luncheon in their honor. Debra Lehr says she was short of breath and could walk no more than 20 to 30 steps before her doctors recommended TAVR .After the procedure, she is able to care for her husband and ride horses at her home in Wilton.

KCRA 3 covered Mercy General’s TAVR luncheon and interviewed Debra Lehr and one of her physicians, Michael Chang, MD, interventional cardiologist.

The story was aired on Thursday, February 13, 2014 on KCRA 3 at 6 p.m.

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