Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) at Providence Saint John’s Health Center

At Providence Saint John’s, patients with severe aortic stenosis are benefitting from a minimally invasive approach to valve replacement called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve that prevents normal blood flow to your body. This is usually caused by the build-up of calcium (mineral deposits) on the aortic valve’s leaflets. Over time, the leaflets become stiff, reducing their ability to fully open. When the leaflets do not fully open, your heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve to your body. Eventually, your heart muscle may weaken, increasing the risk of heart failure (when your heart cannot supply enough blood to the body).

By eliminating the need for open heart surgery, TAVR offers important advantages to patients – especially those considered low risk for traditional valve replacement – and brings new hope to those deemed ineligible for surgery due to age or medical condition. 

How TAVR Works

A traditional valve replacement requires the chest to be surgically opened. With TAVR, a collapsible artificial aortic valve is inserted into the heart via a catheter, requiring only a small incision in the thigh or groin. The catheter – a thin, flexible tube – is threaded through the femoral artery to the heart and the replacement valve is inserted inside the existing damaged valve. Once the new valve is expanded, it pushes the old valve leaflets out of the way and immediately takes over the job of regulating the heart’s blood flow. This minimally-invasive procedure is performed while the heart is still beating, eliminating the need for cardiopulmonary bypass. The new implanted valve helps improve blood flow circulation from your heart to the rest of your body.

Benefits of TAVR

  • Minimally invasive (no chest incision)
  • Shorter recovery
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Significantly less pain
  • Performed without stopping the heart (no need for cardiopulmonary bypass)
  • Immediate improvement in symptoms and quality of life

In a recent U.S. randomized trial, aortic valve stenosis patients receiving only medical therapy had a one-year survival rate of 50 percent; with TAVR, one-year survival rates increased to over 70 percent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aortic valve stenosis is a life-threatening condition in which the valves that regulate the heart’s blood flow lose their ability to open and close, causing less blood to reach the brain, lungs and other vital organs. The resulting symptoms include chest pain or chest tightness, heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Determining which procedure or treatment will achieve the best outcome can be complex and at Providence Saint John’s, we involve experts from multiple specialties – including interventional cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery – in evaluating each patient.

We offer patients the expertise and clinical outcomes created by a unique focus and commitment. In addition, we pride ourselves on personalized and whole person care, tending to the mind, body and spirit.

Providence Saint John’s is also home to one of the state’s most sophisticated surgical settings, including a state-of-the-art “hybrid” cardiovascular suite that allows our interventional cardiologists, radiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons to work together in one room to successfully treat complex or high risk conditions. This cutting-edge suite combines the diagnostic power of imaging with both minimally invasive interventions and traditional open-surgery techniques in the same procedure – giving our surgeons and cardiologists unprecedented flexibility in real time to do what’s best for the patient.

Not all patients can benefit from transcatheter aortic valve replacement and in most cases, TAVR is used with patients considered a moderate or high risk surgical candidate.

To determine if you are a candidate for TAVR, talk to your cardiologist.

Our Team

A group of trusted professionals and specialists make up Providence Saint John’s Health Center’s TAVR team. These individuals can help you determine if TAVR is the right choice for you.

Patient Stories

Following leading-edge heart procedure and unexpected bout with cancer, Penny White feels 30 years younger. Read more

Penny White
Lynn Barry was in her early 40's when she received a startling diagnosis: aortic stenosis, a condition characterized by a narrowing of the aortic valve that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood... read more
Lynn Barry