The Human heart has four valves which are synchronized to open and close according to heart’s rhythm. Heart valves play a very important role in ensuring blood flows in the correct direction within the heart and out of it so that eventually human body is assured proper blood supply.
When one or more heart valves gets dysfunctional, the patient may experience symptoms like: chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and inability to maintain regular activity level. Some patients may also experience light-headedness. The disease can be diagnosed by an experienced Cardiologist byclinical examination, studying the Echocardiogram (‘Echo’), CT angiogram and a few other tests. Medications can be prescribed to improve the heart’s ability to pump blood which may help compensate for a valve that isn’t working correctly. However, a diseased heart valve is a mechanical problem that cannot be fixed with medication alone, and surgery is often needed to repair or replace the damaged valve. Once it is determined that a diseased heart valve needs treatment, the available choices are valve repair or valve replacement.
Till date,valve replacement has been mostly done through open heart surgery wherein a new tissue/mechanical prosthetic valve is inserted in place of the diseased valve. Open heart surgery is an invasive procedure and is known to have a longer recovery time and may be challenging for elderly patients (>65yrs).
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) technique is a life-saving treatment modality for patients who are unwilling or at high risk to undergo an open heart surgery. This minimally invasive procedure involves placement of a new valve over the patient’s diseased valve via a catheter inserted through the femoral artery (large artery in groin). This procedure can thus be done through small openings and hence result in quicker recovery post procedure.
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