Red stethoscope in the shape of a heart on a white background

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Norman Regional Health System now offers Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) through its Norman Heart and Vascular Associates clinic and the Norman Regional HealthPlex Heart Hospital.

What is TAVR?

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure with a recovery time of only 24-48 hours in the hospital then one week of recovery at home.

TAVR patient experience 

The health system had its first four successful cases in July. One of whom was Randall Madden of Norman.

Madden had a heart murmur and was referred to Archana Gautam, MD, interventional cardiologist. After testing, he was told he was a candidate for the TAVR procedure and would be one of the first at Norman Regional.

“I wasn’t nervous at all. I probably should have been a little nervous since it’s my heart, but I really wasn’t because the team made me feel so comfortable. I couldn’t ask for a better group to take care of me. They were friendly and open to answering any of my questions. I trust them with my life,” Madden said. “As crazy as it sounds, it was a great experience and I’d do again if I had to.”

Madden added that the recovery was much quicker than he expected and was up walking the next day. Just one month since his procedure, Madden said he is doing great. He doesn’t have any more chest pain or aches, he’s been able to go shopping and do yard work, and feels like he can breathe again – a luxury he didn’t have before the TAVR procedure.

Why did Norman Regional start a TAVR program?

The TAVR program began because Dr. Gautam wanted to start treating patients in Norman for severe aortic valve stenosis, meaning the aortic valve, the last valve that the oxygenated blood leaves, is small and does not open properly.

The prognosis of severe aortic valve stenosis can be diagnosed by an Echocardiogram and only has a survival rate of less than two years once the patient becomes symptomatic. Some of the symptoms include extreme fatigue, shortness of breath with exertion, dizziness, and passing out spells.

There are no medications to treat a severe aortic valve stenosis, and if left untreated, it is fatal.

Up until about 10 years ago, the only way to fix the valve was to do surgery, but now technology has allowed us to use a catheter in the Cath Lab, said TAVR Coordinator Sarah “Katy” Walsh, APRN-CNS.

Who is eligible for the TAVR procedure?

When first approved, TAVR was only for high-risk and immediate-risk surgery patients, but last year the approval was extended for low risk patients.

“Now there is a very broad spectrum of patients who can get it by FDA approval,” Walsh said. “It’s going to facilitate the continuity of care for these patients given the fact that they need a procedure done for their aortic valve and it can be done right here at Norman Regional.”

Before a patient can be TAVR approved, they must have multiple tests done and be seen by Walsh who is the TAVR coordinator, their primary cardiologist, an interventional cardiologist and Cardiothoracic Surgeon Kyle Toal, MD.

Walsh previously served in the same role at a different health system, but said she was excited to start a new program at Norman Regional.

“I was excited to start the program here with Dr. Gautam,” Walsh said. “A multidisciplinary approach to a TAVR team is very important in building a successful TAVR program. I am thankful to be a part of this new TAVR program and I look forward to the future here at Norman Regional.”