Health & Wellness

Colorado Health & Wellness | Spring 2016

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26 Heart-valve replacement surgery, one of the most common surgeries cardiac surgeons perform, can restore quality of life and add years to survival. But it requires open-heart surgery, an option some patients refuse out of fear and other patients are denied due to prohibitive risk. This fall, doctors at The Medical Center of Aurora began offering the first minimally-invasive aortic valve-replacement procedure for qualifying HealthONE patients, giving some people the life-extending option through only a small puncture in their groin. Called TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), the procedure involves threading a compressed cow valve through a catheter, inserted through the groin, and opening it inside the old valve, where it takes over the failing valve's job. Dr. Jonathan Sherman, an interventional cardiologist, and Dr. Jason Sperling, a cardiac surgeon — along with their TMCA Heart Team — began offering TAVR together in October for high-risk or inoperable aortic-stenosis patients. What is aortic stenosis? Dr. Sperling: It's basically a degeneration of the main heart valve, which separates the main squeezing chamber of the heart, the left ventricle, from the rest of the body. Its job is to open up wide to let the blood get ejected out of the heart and also to close tightly so that blood doesn't leak backward into the heart. This valve is a work-horse that is getting beat up throughout a person's lifetime. Many people's aortic valves are going to get a little bit thicker over time, which can lead to restriction or calcification. That's age-related aortic stenosis. Can it be detected early and progression slowed? Dr. Sperling: It can be detected fairly early by listening for a murmur, an abnormal heart sound that is created by turbulent blood flow across the valve. Progression is expected and probably unavoidable. There is no medication that can treat it. It's not like you can exercise or eat better to prevent it. Eventually, it will probably require treatment. Aurora Doctors Offer Minimally-Invasive Heart-Valve Replacement to Otherwise Option-Less Patients NEW LEASE ON LIFE by Debra Melani

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