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Alternative to Open-Heart Surgery Now Available at LLUMC

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Non-invasive heart procedure is a first in the area.

Surgeons at Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta performed the hospital’s first transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure — or TAVR — on January 14, 2019. Currently, it is the only hospital in the area of Murrieta, California, United States to offer this non-invasive heart procedure to patients in the community.

TAVR is a non-surgical alternative procedure that treats aortic stenosis — a heart valve disease that causes reduced blood flow through the aortic valve. Patients with aortic valve stenosis often suffer from dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Previously, the standard treatment was open-heart surgery, which often has high-risk complications with longer hospital stays. Since not all patients with this type of heart disease are well enough to undergo open-heart surgery, TAVR provides another option. TAVR is a non-invasive procedure done under conscious sedation rather than general anesthesia, takes less than an hour, and allows patients to go home the next day. 

To perform this minimally invasive procedure, an interventional cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon puncture an artery in the leg. Through this small puncture, the team implants a new valve on a balloon slender enough to fit in the artery. The cardiologist then advances this valve through a sheath to replace the diseased valve. 

Interventional cardiologist Niraj Parekh feels that offering the procedure in this area is long overdue. Parekh said having this less invasive option available closer to home will positively impact the patients and families in the community.  Previously, 8 to 10 patients a month would have to be transferred to distant hospitals, but now the hospital has a waiting list of 25 patients for TAVR.

“This area is underserved for cardiology and structural heart disease,” Parekh said. “I am excited that we can now offer the community a variety of advanced care options locally.”

In 2016, the FDA approved the TAVR procedure for intermediate-risk patients, as previously only high-risk patients were eligible. Cardiothoracic surgeon Michael Koumjian said bringing this procedure to Murietta with access to neighboring cities will serve an increasingly eligible population.

“The TAVR technology is growing, and eligibility is expanding” Koumjian said. “To accommodate that growth, we’re pleased to be offering this state-of-the-art technology for our community.”

To learn more about TAVR, LLUMC – Murrieta is inviting the community to the third annual Heart Health Conference. This conference will highlight key information regarding TAVR and other heart health tips. The conference will take place at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday,  February 14, 2019 at the Temecula Conference Center in Temecula, California. It will be a great opportunity to also speak with specialists, organizers said.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates Loma Linda University Medical Centers, including the one in the city of Murrieta, California.

The original version of this story was posted on the Loma Linda University Health news site.


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