The renowned specialists affiliated with the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute are leading the way in cardiovascular care with cutting-edge procedures and the latest technology. With quality, innovative care, we offer a full range of surgical and minimally invasive procedures for cardiovascular conditions.

Aortic stenosis is one of the most common heart-valve conditions. It affects a significant percentage of older Americans and, if untreated, can lead to heart failure or death. Milder cases of aortic stenosis can be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes. However, for people with severe symptoms, an aortic valve replacement may be necessary.

What is TAVR?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to replace the aortic valve in patients with severe aortic stenosis. This procedure is appropriate for patients who are considered to be at any risk level for significant complications from traditional open-heart surgery.

Aortic stenosis is a thickening of the aortic valve that keeps it from fully opening. When the valve doesn’t open properly, blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body is limited. Patients with aortic stenosis may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue or swelling in their legs.

In a TAVR procedure, a new, artificial aortic valve is collapsed and inserted through a catheter. Once the device is in the correct position, it is expanded and stays in place to take over for the diseased or damaged aortic valve.

How is TAVR Different From Traditional Heart Surgery?

In a traditional open-heart surgical procedure, the damaged aortic valve is completely removed and replaced with an artificial valve. It is a major surgical procedure where the surgeon makes an incision in the chest and breastbone (sternum) to reach the aortic valve.

TAVR does not require a large incision in the chest. Instead, the surgeon makes a small incision in the chest or leg to reach a major artery. From there, an artificial valve attached to a catheter is guided through the artery and blood vessels to reach the aortic valve.

Are You a Candidate for TAVR?

Here are some general guidelines about TAVR for you and your doctor to consider in determining whether it is an appropriate procedure for you.

TAVR is FDA approved for patients who have severe aortic stenosis.

You May Be a Candidate for TAVR if:

  • Your aortic stenosis is severe.
  • You are experiencing symptoms including chest pain, heart failure, fainting and irregular rhythms.
  • Your symptoms have not improved with medication.

You May Not Be a Candidate for TAVR if:

  • Your aortic stenosis is only mild-moderate in severity.
  • Your valve and blood vessels are not the right size for TAVR.
  • Your heart is too weak, or you have other untreated heart problems.
  • You have problems with your aorta.
  • You have had a heart attack in the last 30 days.
  • You have a severe illness or infection.

TAVR for Aortic Stenosis

For patients who are not TAVR candidates, minimally invasive aortic valve replacement using a small 5 centimeter incision in the upper chest is another option.

Your doctor is the best person to help you make the decision about whether TAVR is a good option for you. Your medical history, test results, lifestyle and personal preference all play a role.

If you are not experiencing any aortic stenosis symptoms, or have only mild symptoms, you may only require medical treatment and regular monitoring by your physician. If you are interested in learning more about our research trial for low-risk patients, please contact our research team at (713) 500-8828.

Benefits of TAVR

Because TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure, it has significant benefits over traditional open-heart surgery. With TAVR, patients may experience:

  • Lower risk of infection
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Faster recoveries
  • Less trauma to the chest and heart muscle
  • Fewer cardiac and respiratory complications
  • One-eighth the blood loss of traditional open surgery

What to Expect During a TAVR Procedure

You will receive general anesthesia so that you be asleep during the procedure and you will not remember anything. During the procedure, you will receive intravenous (IV) medication to prevent blood clots, and your blood pressure and heart function will be monitored.

The surgeon will make a small incision in your leg or chest to locate an artery. Then, the catheter will be inserted into the artery and will be guided via X-ray technology until it reaches the aortic valve. Once it is in the correct position, the artificial valve will be expanded and locked into place inside the existing valve.

After the artificial valve is securely in place, the surgeon will remove the catheter and close the incision.

Risks and Side Effects of TAVR

Like all procedures, there are risks associated with TAVR. Patients may experience:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Complications with the artificial valve, including leakage or dislocation
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Need for pacemaker

After the Procedure

You can expect to stay in the hospital for approximately 1 day. If there are any concerns regarding your recovery, then your stay may be a few additional days. Your stay may include some time in the intensive care unit (ICU).

It is important to make healthy lifestyle changes after a TAVR procedure. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and maintaining a healthy BMI are all crucial to your cardiovascular health. You will also need to have follow-up appointments with your physician and take any medications you are prescribed.

After a TAVR procedure, you should have significant symptom relief. Things like shortness of breath and chest pain should improve, which will benefit your overall quality of life.

Why Choose Memorial Hermann for TAVR treatment?

Researchers and clinicians at the Heart & Vascular Institute bring groundbreaking discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside. The Institute is known for its solid track record of innovation, outstanding outcomes and exceptional patient care. Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute is consistently ranked by national quality benchmarking organizations as a leader in clinical quality and patient safety.

Across Memorial Hermann, affiliated heart and vascular physicians treated nearly 200,000 heart and vascular patients last year alone. Our medical expertise extends from lifesaving heart attack treatments to heart rhythm disorders, treatment for advanced heart failure and complex surgeries, including the most complex vascular and heart surgeries. New minimally invasive procedures, such as TAVR, allow for life-saving interventions for people too ill for traditional open-heart surgical procedures.

To learn more about our TAVR locations or to refer a patient to the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular TAVR Program, contact your preferred location below:

Contact Us

If you have questions regarding the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute, our cardiologists, or treatment facilities, please use our contact form below or call (713) 222-2273 for more information.

Thank
You!

Thank you for contacting the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute. We have received your inquiry, and a team member will contact you soon.

If you need more immediate assistance, please call us at (713) 222-2273.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Healthy Living

A healthy heart begins with healthy habits. Create balance and take charge of your heart health today.

Nutrition

Eat smarter with heart healthy eating tips and recipes. Learn to cut sugars, eat clean and more.

Fitness

Get moving with this guide to heart healthy fitness! Learn how exercise improves your heart health.