• Frequently Asked Questions about TAVR 

    Q. What is aortic stenosis? What are the symptoms?
    A. As we age, our heart valves can become stiff or weak. Severe aortic stenosis is often caused by the build-up of calcium on the valve's leaflets. This causes narrowing and stiffness in the valve which reduces its ability to open and close completely. The narrowed valve allows less oxygenated blood to flow through and as a result, less oxygen-rich blood is pumped out to the body, which may cause symptoms like severe shortness of breath.

    Q. What is the risk of having severe aortic stenosis?
    A. Eventually, your heart will get weaker, increasing your risk of heart failure. Severe aortic stenosis is a very serious problem. Without aortic valve replacement, 50 percent of patients will not survive more than an average of two years after they start having symptoms.

    Q. What is the treatment for severe aortic stenosis?
    A. Currently, there is no medicine to treat aortic stenosis. Aortic valve replacement is the treatment for severe symptomatic aortic stenosis. This is usually done through open-heart surgery. For candidates who are inoperable there was not a treatment option available until the recent approval of the TAVR procedure

    Q. Who is a candidate for TAVR?
    A. The TAVR procedure is not right for everyone; however, it can dramatically improve the quality of life for some patients. A team of experienced cardiac specialists consults with your cardiologist to determine the extent of your valve disease and any other heart or medical conditions that you may have. The team reviews the anatomy of your heart with advanced cardiac imaging studies that can be scheduled at St. John’s Hospital.

    Q. How can I find out if I’m eligible for TAVR?
    A. If a cardiac surgeon determines you are too sick for open heart surgery, TAVR might be an alternative. St. John’s Heart Team will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether this procedure is an appropriate therapeutic option. In certain cases, TAVR may not be an option because of co-existing medical conditions or disease processes that would prevent you from experiencing the expected treatment benefit or because the risks outweigh the benefits. For those who are candidates for TAVR, this therapy may provide relief from the often debilitating symptoms associated with severe symptomatic native aortic valve stenosis.

    Q. How long will I be in the hospital?
    A. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and the procedure usually takes 3 to 4 hours. The average hospital stay is 4 to 7 days.

    Q. What are the risks of TAVR?
    A. TAVR is a significant procedure involving general anesthesia, and placement of the valve is associated with specific contraindications as well as serious adverse effects, including risks of death, stroke, damage to the artery used for insertion of the valve, major bleeding, and other life-threatening and serious events. In addition, the longevity of this valve has not yet been determined since this is a new procedure.