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New Heart and Vascular Treatment Options for High-Risk Patients

Posted 1/20/2016 by UHBlog

Newer technologies are leading to less invasive ways to treat heart conditions. Ask us how these advances can help you.

Safer Heart Disease Options: Minimally Invasive Procedures

In the past, if you needed open heart surgery, you could expect to undergo traditional surgery and a long recovery. Now, advanced minimally invasive approaches are making it easier to treat heart and vascular conditions without open surgery.

For patients who might not be candidates for open surgery, this is especially good news, says interventional cardiologist Marco Costa, MD, PhD. Plus, the newer technologies are performed more easily, resulting in faster healing times for patients.

Three of these innovative techniques include:

  1. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) – This minimally invasive procedure treats aortic stenosis, a condition in which the aortic valve that leads blood from the heart to the rest of the body becomes obstructed. During TAVR, a replacement valve is inserted via a catheter through the groin or between the ribs and placed inside the patient’s natural aortic valve.
    Some of the benefits of TAVR are:
    • Sedation is used, not general anesthesia
    • Shorter hospital stay
    • Faster recovery
    • Fewer respiratory and cardiac complications
    “TAVR has transformed the way we treat aortic valve disease,” Dr. Costa says. “Recent data demonstrate that this procedure is actually superior to open-heart surgery for high-risk patients.”
  2. Parachute – Although still under study in the U.S., this catheter-based device is used to treat heart failure. It partitions coronary muscle damaged by a heart attack, keeping the non-functional heart segment separate from the healthy, functional muscle to decrease the overall volume of the left ventricle and allow it to restore its shape, size and function.
    “Patients who have received this procedure tend to do extremely well,” he says. “We just presented three-year data which show it has drastically reduced the need for re-hospitalization and significantly improved the survival rates of study patients.”
  3. Thoracic endovascular aortic repair (TEVAR) and endovascular aortic repair (EVAR) – These are minimally invasive procedures used to treat an aneurysm, a bulge in the arteries in the thoracic aorta (in the chest) or the abdominal aorta (in the stomach). A stent graft is placed inside the aneurysm via a catheter, creating a new pathway for the blood to flow while also reducing pressure on the aneurysm and the risk of rupture.

The likelihood that a person in his or her 80s will have some form of heart disease is strong, especially if you include conditions such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. For older patients, recovering from traditional open surgery can be challenging. But with these newer options, fixing complex problems may now be an option to explore.

Marco Costa, MD, PhD is Director of the Interventional Cardiovascular Center of University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute and Chief Innovation Officer at University Hospitals. You can request an appointment with Dr. Costa or any other University Hospitals doctor online.

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