Illustration of a TAVR

Heart care just got better.

A revolutionary heart procedure is now available in Round Rock and College Station.

Baylor Scott & White Medical Centers in Round Rock and College Station have launched transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) programs, joining four other Baylor Scott & White hospitals, including Temple, Dallas, Plano, and Fort Worth. Baylor Scott & White is home to Texas’ largest TAVR program, having performed more than 3,600 TAVRs, and is a top-five provider of TAVR nationally.

Since 2012, doctors at Baylor Scott & White – Round Rock have performed a number of TAVR procedures. “This new procedure reflects our team’s multidisciplinary approach to care and our commitment to provide quality heart care,” says Angel Caldera, MD, medical director, catheterization lab, Baylor Scott & White – Round Rock. “We are pleased to be able to bring this to our patients living in Williamson County and surrounding areas.”

TAVR is a promising alternative to open-heart surgery for patients with aortic stenosis—a condition in which a narrowed aortic valve fails to open properly, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood. Over time, that stress weakens the heart and can cause a range of issues such as heart failure, thickening of the heart muscle, or blood in the lungs. Often unaware of the condition for many years, patients eventually experience symptoms of chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, or shortness of breath.

“TAVR can provide a better quality of life for patients suffering from heart valve disease,” says William Gray, MD, medical director of the Structural Heart Program at Baylor Scott & White – College Station. “We are thrilled to offer this procedure to our Brazos Valley patients, so they can recover close to home and be near loved ones during their stay at the hospital.”

In this minimally-invasive procedure, doctors replace the damaged heart valve by threading a new one through a blood vessel in the leg. The surgery lasts less than one hour, and most patients require only an overnight stay. In contrast, open-heart surgery involves splitting the breast bone and stopping the heart to replace the valve. Patients stay in the hospital for a week to 10 days and require extensive rehabilitation.

Paving the Way

TAVR was first performed in humans more than 15 years ago. Until recently, it was reserved for very sick or elderly patients—those unlikely to survive traditional open-heart surgery. Baylor Scott & White Research Institute is a lead contributor in a national study to evaluate TAVR and its lasting benefits for younger or healthier patients.

“Low-risk and younger patients have a longer life expectancy, so we need to ensure that the valve is durable for a longer period of time,” says Michael Mack, MD, the national co-principal investigator for the study, Baylor Scott & White medical director of cardiovascular surgery, and chairman of Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital Plano Research Center. “In addition to a shorter hospital stay, less irregular heart rhythm, and less bleeding, we found that TAVR patients were significantly less likely to experience stroke or re-hospitalization within one year after this procedure.”

The Baylor Scott & White study will continue to monitor its enrollee patients for ten years, even though the Food and Drug Administration approved TAVR as an option for patients in all risk categories.

“In 15 years of research, we’ve gone from a disease being treated by a severe open surgical approach to a primarily catheter-based approach that does not require a surgical incision,” Dr. Mack says. “That’s a pretty momentous shift in a very short period of time.”

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