Don't skip a beat: TAVR heart procedure could save your life

About 92.1 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, that's according to the American Heart Association. During American Heart Month, we're making it our goal to educate you about different medical procedures that could save your life.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, better known as TAVR, treats aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the aortic valve. It's not uncommon for Dr. William Bailey, along with a team of surgeons and medical professionals at Baptist Health Care, to preform 2 to 3 TAVR procedures a week.

"An aortic valve is loaded on a balloon. The balloon is inserted, usually through the leg artery, threaded up into the heart - in the same position that the other valve is," said Dr. Bailey. "The balloon is inflated, leaving the valve with a stent behind, and the procedure is done."

Although the procedure only takes about 23 minutes, open heart surgery is still the preferred method to fix aortic valve narrowing. The TAVR procedure is typically reserved for high risk patients. Patients like Doug Oetting.

"I was feeling tired, particularly after working all day," said Doug. "My activity level went down a lot."

Doug had a calcified aorta, often referred to as a porcelain heart.

"I always use the example, you can't take a porcelain tea cup, crack it with a hammer, then sew it back together with needle and thread and expect it to hold tea," said Dr. Bailey. "Surgery would not have been possible for him; this was his only option."

But Doug almost did have surgery, not once, but three times. On each occasion, the surgery was cancelled last minute.

"My wife and I are believers of fate and that was a turning point at the point," said Doug. "We just count it as a blessing that we didn't go through with it, because I probably would have died on the operating table."

Thankfully, he opted for a second opinion from Dr. Bailey.

"Doug really came here fortuitously," said Dr. Bailey. "Once a person develops symptoms for aortic stenosis, there is a 50 percent chance they'll die in the next four years. It's a fatal disease, it's not something that we're treating to make them look better, we're treating them to prevent them from dying."

Now, at 70 years old, Doug has a second chance and a new lease on life.

"It's a great day to be alive," said Doug.

Doug is one of the first one hundred people to have the TAVR procedure at Baptist Health Care since they began offering it in 2014.

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