An alternative to open heart surgery: Read Susan's story.
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An alternative to open heart surgery: Read Susan's story.

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Susan Boren, age 67, was diagnosed with aortic stenosis over two years ago. Aortic stenosis is more common in individuals over 65 and is caused by a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve due to excessive calcium deposited on the valve leaflets. When the valve narrows, it does not open or close properly, making the heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Eventually, this causes the heart to weaken and function poorly, which may lead to heart failure and increased risk for sudden cardiac death.

“I've seen my cardiologist, Dr. Bansal for almost two years for monitoring the valve but it had not gotten to the point to do something about it,” said Boren.

That changed in December during a knee replacement pre-op appointment with St. Luke’s Cardiologist Dr. Ojas Bansal. An echocardiogram showed her valve would need to be fixed prior to surgery. Dr. Bansal explained to Boren that she would be a candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). It’s a less invasive procedure that fixes the valve and does not require open-heart surgery. 

St. Luke’s Hospital’s Heart Care TAVR team recently surpassed its 200th TAVR procedure. UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Heart and Vascular Institute began its TAVR program in 2016.

“Our heart care program is an outstanding service we provide to the communities to keep them close to home, so they don't have to travel outside of Cedar Rapids,” said Garry Weide, MD, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa cardiothoracic surgeon.

TAVR was originally approved for individuals with moderate to high-risk aortic stenosis but was recently approved for individuals with low-risk aortic stenosis. TAVR valves are inserted via a catheter, typically through the femoral artery, without open-heart surgery. This minimally invasive surgical procedure repairs the damaged valve by placing a replacement valve into the aortic valve.
“Opening the TAVR procedure up to the low-risk population has changed the way we treat aortic stenosis,” said Dr. Weide. “Aortic stenosis is the most common valve disease we encounter. Now that it’s available for low-risk patients it will allow many individuals to avoid open-heart surgery. It’s a less invasive approach to treat aortic stenosis with a quicker recovery - returning them to their jobs, lives and families faster than they would if they had open-heart surgery.

Both options were explained to Boren, open heart surgery and the TAVR procedure to fix the valve. Boren knew firsthand the lengthy recovery and rehabilitation associated with open heart surgery as her husband had open heart surgery 20 years before. 

“The TAVR procedure was an easy decision,” shared Boren. “The benefits of this procedure are so great. Open heart surgery would have required weeks of healing and cardiac rehabilitation.”
After spending only one night at St. Luke’s, Boren is now planning on having that knee replacement surgery in the spring. 

To learn more about TAVR, call St. Luke's Cardiology at (319) 364-7101 or email StLukesCR@unitypoint.org.


Watch a TAVR procedure.