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TAVR patient story

New treatment for common heart ailment

“I NOTICED I was really losing my stamina,” says Gladys Pierce.

Throughout her 84 years, Gladys had always been active, but over a few months she found herself tired all the time. “My balance was unsteady, and I began to feel dizzy,” she says. “It was very frustrating.”

A medical evaluation revealed bad news: Gladys was suffering from severe aortic stenosis, a narrowing of one of the heart’s valves, which obstructs blood flow and forces the heart to work harder. Aortic stenosis is common, affecting 1.5 million Americans. One in 3 cases becomes severe enough to require surgery.

“Aortic stenosis becomes more common as we age,” says PeaceHealth Cardiologist Maen Nusair, MD. “Until recently, the only treatment was openheart surgery and valve replacement. That is a major operation and is often high-risk for elderly patients.”

Because there is no drug treatment for aortic stenosis, older patients unable to tolerate openheart surgery have a high risk of mortality from the disease. Within two years of the onset of symptoms, the survival rate of untreated patients is just 50 percent.

Fortunately, a newly approved heart valve implant device is now available in Clark County. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) allows a cardiologist to insert a new heart
valve through the patient’s femoral artery, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery. Dr. Nusair is one of the first cardiologists in southwest Washington to offer TAVR. “This procedure is a game changer,” he says.

With TAVR, patients typically spend just two days in the hospital, before resuming regular activities.

Gladys was amazed with the rapid, dramatic improvement in her health after TAVR.

“When I took my first walk, I could stride briskly down the hall instead of leaning over, shuffling,” she says. “I’m sleeping better, my energy level is higher, and I feel great! There is no question this has worked.

“I’ve been telling everyone about it,” she continues. “I want all my friends to know. Older people don’t have to accept being out of breath and dizzy all the time. There are options!”

Learn more about TAVR.