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Partnership leads to innovative valve replacement

18 Mar 2018

Salem Health performs first TAVR

By: Brandon Schmidgall, Cardiovascular Services Director and Heidi Hayes, SHMG Vascular and Cardiothoracic Surgery Manager

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Salem Health successfully performed its first four trans-catheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures last month.

As you may know, this procedure reduces the effects of aortic stenosis, a calcification that builds up on the leaflets of a heart valve, causing the valve to stop working correctly. It is less invasive than other options and can reduce hospitalized recovery time by up to seven days.

Aortic stenosis reduces the amount of blood reaching the entire body, causing shortness of breath and a sharp reduction in physical activity. Many aortic stenosis patients are deemed non-surgical due to health issues, such as frailty, lung complications and diabetes.

Patients with this condition used to undergo open-heart surgery. The TAVR procedure allows the patient’s body to focus on healing. Many patients who were unable to undergo open-heart surgery will also now be able to have aortic valve replacement with TAVR.

“I am excited that we are now able to treat patients with the less invasive TAVR right here in Salem,” says Raghu Kamineni MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist at Oregon Heart Center.

Through this program, patients can access the TAVR procedure near home, rather than traveling to Portland or Eugene.

According to Juan Oyarzun, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon, “This is another example of state-of-the-art technology and services brought to this community by Salem Health. Residents have access to services on par with any institution in the country.”

Dr. Kamineni and Dr. Oyarzun collaborate on these cases. During the procedure, the heart is accessed via the femoral artery; then a catheter containing an expandable valve is inserted. The valve is deployed occupying the same space as the stenotic valve.

Chris Lebel, RN, coordinates the new collaborative TAVR program to help patients move through the process quickly and seamlessly.

“We want the process to be smooth and easy for patients, with the utmost attention paid to their care,” says Lebel. “My role as coordinator is to communicate and coordinate with the patients and providers in order to give the patient the best outcome possible.”

This program was developed in response to community need. The procedure is becoming a new standard of care and is the product of a partnership between the independent cardiologists, Salem Health-employed cardiothoracic surgeons and the anesthesiologists and radiologists practicing here.