For individuals diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, activities of daily living can be very limited. For JoAnn McCutchins, her daily routine had changed dramatically. “I couldn’t do anything anymore,” said McCutchins. “I couldn’t get out of my chair. I was out of breath all of the time. I was worn out and tired.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 2.5 million people in the U.S. over the age of 75 suffer from this disease. The symptoms of aortic stenosis are commonly misunderstood by patients as normal signs of aging including shortness of breath, angina, fatigue, rapid or irregular heartbeat or palpitations.
Literature shows that after the onset of symptoms, individuals with severe aortic stenosis have a survival rate as low as 50% at 2 years. Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with sever aortic stenosis have limited options for treatment as they may be too high risk to undergo traditional heart valve replacement surgery.
TAVR (Transcatheter aortic valve replacement) is a relatively new procedure for a specific group of patients with severe aortic stenosis. TAVR is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, somewhat similar to a stent placement in the artery. TAVR delivers a collapsed replacement valve to the aortic valve site through a catheter. Once in place, the replacement valve is expanded to push the old valve leaflets out of the way. This enables the replacement valve to assume the function of regulating blood flow through the aorta.
In preparation for offering TAVR, a team at Redmond worked closely with Harbin Clinic Cardiologists, Dr. Chas Jackson and Dr. Chris Merritt to develop hospital protocols, a patient clinical pathway, and other. The addition of this new procedure also required the addition of state of the art technology. Redmond invested $1.3 million into developing a new hybrid OR suite that serves both state of the art vascular surgery procedures as well as the new TAVR procedure.
Mr. Ronald Young, the first TAVR patient at Redmond, was ready and waiting for the procedure to come to Rome. “I knew Dr. Jackson (Harbin Clinic Cardiologist) was working with Redmond to develop the TAVR program,” said Mr. Young. “I could have had the procedure sooner by going to Atlanta. But I didn’t want to go to Atlanta. I wanted to wait and have the procedure at Redmond.”
After her surgery, even while still in the hospital, Ms. McCutchins could already tell a difference in how she felt. “The minute I woke up I could tell a difference, said McCutchins. I could move better and I could breathe better.”
The addition of the TAVR program at Redmond has also energized the heart team. “In my 42 years at Redmond, I’ve never been involved in anything that changes lives so drastically” said Marsha Colwell, Vice President of Cardiovascular Services at Redmond Regional Medical Center.
According to Mr. Young and to Ms. McCutchins, it’s more than the TAVR procedure that has positively impacted their lives. It’s also the people and the hospital experience that have made a significant impression. “All of the doctors and nurses were excellent,” said Mr. Young. “Dr. Jackson couldn’t have treated his own father better.” Ms. McCutchins echoed that same theme saying that “everyone was so nice and helpful. It makes you feel good when people care so much. Even if they weren’t my nurse, they would come in and check on me.”
And how are they doing after being back home? Mr. Young is preparing to travel out of state to enjoy his granddaughters wedding. And then he and his wife will be flying to England for an extended stay. When asked to sum up her TAVR experience at Redmond, Ms. McCutchins summed it up well: “I’m almost speechless. It’s like getting your life back.”