Orlando Regional Medical Center

Orlando Health Heart Institute replaces heart valves without open-surgery

Multidisciplined team offers FDA’s first approved artificial aortic heart valve


Sabrina Childress

ORLANDO, Fla. (August 03, 2012) --- Doctors at the Orlando Health Heart Institute are taking a new route to a patient’s heart valve and giving new hope to patients once considered ‘too sick’ for surgery. The medical team recently began using the first artificial heart valve approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to replace a narrowed heart valve by going through a leg artery instead of a traditional open heart surgery.

The procedure, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), is designed for high-risk patients living with severe chest pain, congestive heart failure (including shortness of breath, fatigue, and edema) and other symptoms of aortic stenosis — an age-related heart disease developed when calcium deposits cause the aortic valve to narrow, forcing the heart to work harder to pump enough blood through the smaller opening.

“TAVR opens up the possibility of aortic valve replacement to patients previously considered inoperable and may prolong their life and improve their symptoms,” said Deepak Vivek, MD, Director, Orlando Health Heart Institute Heart Valve Center. “For most patients, once symptoms from aortic stenosis develop, death occurs within a couple of years. Having an alternative to save lives and improve the quality of lives is vital to caring for patients with heart disease – which remains the leading cause of death for men and women in our country.”

Current research supports the potential benefits to patients.

“A recent trial (THE PARTNER TRIAL: Placement of AoRTic TraNscathetER Valve Trial) demonstrated that TAVR significantly reduces the risk of death and symptoms of congestive heart failure,” said Dr. Vivek.

Prior to TAVR, patients would have little chance for relief from medical symptoms and improvement of quality of life.

“Our goal is to help patients return to their level of functioning prior to developing aortic stenosis,” said Dr. Vivek.

The artificial valve, called the Sapien THV and manufactured by Edwards Lifesciences, is made of cow heart tissue and a polyethylene skirt and is supported with a stainless steel mesh frame. To replace the diseased valve, the artificial valve is delivered through a catheter, inserted through a small cut in the leg. The new valve is released from the catheter, expanded with a balloon and is immediately functional.

“Offering TAVR is a collaborate and innovative approach, bringing together the expertise and experience of our doctors, nurses and other clinicians to provide the best care for our patients,” said Jeffrey Bott, MD, chair, Thoracic Surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center. “The new approach is part of our continued efforts to provide effective alternative treatment options for patients who cannot undergo open heart surgery.”

The Heart Institute’s Valve Center is part of Orlando Health’s new model of care that puts the patient first by promoting seamless coordination of all aspects of the patient experience, is made up of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, radiologists, anesthesiologists and other clinicians who work together to evaluate options to treat high-risk patients with aortic stenosis.