Intermountain Healthcare’s Utah Valley Hospital in Provo has successfully performed its first transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure (TAVR). TAVR is a minimally-invasive way to replace a diseased heart valve without having a patient undergo major open-heart surgery.
During TAVR, a replacement valve is inserted through a small cut in the upper thigh. Doctors use a catheter to navigate the valve to the heart. Then, they expand the valve into place and the new valve immediately begins to function.
“Our team has been preparing for this for almost two years. This is a state-of-the-art procedure that’s much better for patients and it’s being done locally which improves care for our entire community,” said Mitch Southwick, cardiovascular area operations director for Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital.
Other Intermountain hospitals performing TAVR, include: Intermountain Medical Center, Salt Lake City; Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George; and McKay-Dee Hospital, Ogden.
Valve replacement can be required if diet and lack of exercise cause heart valves to atrophy or harden. The loss of valve flexibility may cause chest pain, rapid heart rhythms or skips, shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms.
The TAVR procedure involves an interventional cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon working together to perform the surgery. Patients who have the procedure are typically in the hospital two days and are back to normal life activities within 10 days. This represents a significant improvement from the three- to five-day hospital stay and six-week recovery for people who have open heart surgery.
After living with a mild heart murmur for about five years, Thomas Powell, 77, became the first patient to undergo the TAVR procedure at Utah Valley. The Provo resident learned his murmur had gotten worse last fall when he was visiting his primary care provider.
“I knew my body was slowing down, but my doctor said I had severe aortic stenosis,” Powell said from his hospital room at Utah Valley Hospital. “I feel a whole bunch better now when the doctors and nurses don’t hear the murmur any longer.”
Powell’s wife of 52 years echoed those same feelings.
“It was wonderful to see all the staff involved and to hear how long they’ve been working on getting this procedure here. I felt very confident in all the doctors and nurses,” said LeeAnn Powell.
Prospective TAVR patients are evaluated by a team of cardiologists and heart surgeons at Utah Valley Hospital.
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.