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High-Risk Heart Patients Celebrate a New Procedure


Open heart surgery is invasive, expensive and high-risk, making it unavailable for some patients who need it most. As KSMU’s Shannon Bowers reports, that is why some patients are now turning to a new procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
Mercy Hospital celebrated their one year anniversary of the procedure Tuesday by offering a luncheon for patient survivors. Since starting the new service last March, they have performed surgeries on 26 patients.
One of the first patients to receive the operation is 78-year-old limousin cattle farmer.
“I just didn’t want to get cut open again,” said Block.
Valve replacement with the transcatheter technique is a minimally invasive approach to implanting an artificial heart valve inside an aortic valve for patients who couldn’t tolerate the stress of an open heart procedure. Block had a four-way bypass years earlier, making another open heart surgery impossible.
When he suffered from a heart attack in January of 2012, his doctor told him about the new procedure, so that by March he would be ready for the new catheter. After the procedure, Block was pleasantly surprised at his recovery.
“Recovery rate was immediate. It was the next day I went home and the day after that I was out riding my tractor on the bush out there,” said Block
Because the procedure is minimally invasive, the turnaround for most patients is between two to three days said Dr. Merritt, an interventional cardiologist at Mercy. He went on to say that this is a new procedure world-wide and it is still being perfected.
“I wouldn’t say I prefer it over open heart surgery, I would say for the correct patients it is a great procedure and time will allow this to develop appropriately and improve. We expect over the next two to five years to have exceptionally better devices and that will be exceptionally important for patients,” said Merritt.
Valvular heart disease is the third most common cause of heart problems in the United States affecting almost five percent of the population. For KSMU News, I’m Shannon Bowers.