TAVR now available to low-risk patients in Illinois

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In 2008, Chicago’s Northwestern Medicine launched its transcatheter aortic value replacement (TAVR) program aimed at patients who are at high risk of mortality or complications from traditional open-heart surgery. The hospital recently made history by becoming the first in Illinois to perform TAVR on a low-risk patient.

The procedure allows patients to reap the benefits of valve replacement without undergoing surgery. In TAVR, cardiologists thread the new value to the heart via a catheter, or tube, inserted in the patient’s groin or small incision under the patient’s rib. The new value is steered into the dead valve, replacing it.

“We are excited to be one of the first centers to offer TAVR for a broader group of low risk patients through this clinical trial,” said Charles Davidson, MD, clinical chief of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in a statement. “The technology has demonstrated superior outcomes to surgery in intermediate risk patients and now will investigate how it comes to surgery in patients at low risk.”

Prior to this procedure, physicians at Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute (BCVI) had performed more than 500 TAVR procedures in order to reduce the extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and chest pain associated with symptomatic aortic stenosis. The procedure often leads to better outcomes than open-heart surgery.

Northwestern Memorial is one of 50 hospitals across the country expected to enroll up to 1,300 patients in a low-risk patient TAVR trial.

“The results of Partner 3 and all of our transcatheter trials potentially will dramatically alter the options for treatment and recovery after the procedure,” said Patrick McCarthy, MD, executive director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “While open heart surgery today is the preferred option for most patients, physicians at BCVI have been at the forefront of developing transcatheter valve therapies. [I]n 10 years, it likely will be the preferred treatment for most patients.”