Stephen knew why he felt ill, especially when he couldn’t tie his shoes without losing his breath.
The 73-year-old Fairfield resident had a long history of heart issues. Fifteen years prior, Stephen had open heart surgery at Bridgeport Hospital to replace his aortic valve due to aortic valve stenosis, a calcification and narrowing of the opening of the valve.
“Open heart surgery has been the traditional treatment for this problem,” said Edward Tuohy, MD, interventional cardiologist with Northeast Medical Group. “These surgically implanted aortic valves last for 10-15 years, so some patients, that are young at the time of surgery, will have to undergo another valve replacement procedure.”
Stephen’s cardiologist monitored him for the next 10 years. At the 15-year mark, Stephen was monitored more closely.
“One morning, though, I got out of bed and felt like I hadn’t slept all night,” recalled Stephen. “I actually went to the emergency room because I felt so bad. I was told that it was time to have my valve replaced.”
This time was different. Stephen was a perfect candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). TAVR is a less invasive procedure that does not require open heart surgery.
“There are many advantages to the TAVR procedure for our patients,” explained Dr. Tuohy, who specializes in TAVR. “Our patients see better outcomes because TAVR is minimally invasive. The post-procedure hospital stay is shorter and recovery is typically faster. TAVR does not require a heart-lung bypass machine or even general anesthesia. Older patients, especially those like Stephen who underwent traditional aortic valve replacement, are excellent candidates for TAVR.”
Stephen had his TAVR procedure in April 2017 in Bridgeport Hospital’s Elizabeth M. Pfriem Hybrid Operating Room. The procedure was performed by Dr. Tuohy and chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Yale Medicine’s Umer Darr, MD.
Stephen immediately noticed the difference. He was able to walk up and down the hallways after surgery without losing his breath. He also cut down his heart medications from seven to three.
Today Stephen is back to work full-time. In fact, he changed his diet and lost weight, works out at the local gym, uses the elliptical machine and lifts weights. He has more energy, and his wife says he even helps with housework.
“I didn’t realize just how poorly I was feeling,” said Stephen. “Comparing my TAVR experience to my open heart surgery is like night and day. Even though I was fifteen years older, I went back to work quicker. I can do so much more than I could before. It was almost like the old days, prior to my needing the first valve replacement surgery.”