DANBURY, Conn. -- New Fairfield resident Nora Robinson, 91, does a lot of knitting, quilting, and when she gets a chance, goes riding on a motorcycle as a passenger every chance she gets.
When Nora began experiencing shortness of breath upon exertion, she went to see her cardiologist Dr. Brian Pollack of Cardiac Specialists. “I had quite a bit of a problem for a long time,” Robinson said. “If I walked up my driveway, or walked too far, I would have pain in my heart and be gasping for breath. I was kind of depressed when I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do.”
Following a comprehensive examination and diagnostic testing, Dr. Pollack diagnosed Nora with severe aortic stenosis then referred her to the Heart Valve Center at Danbury Hospital where she met Dr. Marc Krichavsky, an interventional cardiologist and the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) team for evaluation.
According to the American Heart Association, aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, which restricts the blood flow exiting the heart, leading to shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain. This condition more commonly develops during aging as calcium or scarring damages the valve.
On June 24, Dr. Krichavsky along with a multidisciplinary cardiac team at Danbury Hospital performed a TAVR procedure on Nora. The minimally invasive surgical procedure spares patients from some of the trauma of traditional open-heart surgery.
“Rather than have to open up the chest and put the valve in directly, we were able to deliver the valve through an artery in her leg,” Dr. Krichavsky said. “The technology is really quite amazing and the patients are able to go home and get back to their normal lives much, much faster.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved TAVR procedure in 2011 for patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis deemed too risky to undergo standard aortic valve replacement because of their advanced age and multiple medical conditions. Danbury Hospital has been performing the TAVR procedure since October 2013.
“I was in the hospital three days only and I was just fine. From the very beginning the teamwork was absolutely fantastic each and every one,” Robinson said. “It was really a good experience if you can say that about an operation.”
Patients who come to Danbury Hospital can easily access all the cardiac specialists they need at one convenient location. “It’s really important to have a Valve team taking care of patients particularly for this surgery where many of our patients are in their 80s and 90s. For them to have to come in and make multiple visits really is a tremendous inconvenience and it offers a huge advantage for all of us to get together and to collaborate on their care,” Dr. Krichavsky said.
“Each doctor that I’ve encountered was really great, always giving a lot of time and always listening to whatever questions you might have,” said Robinson. “It made me feel as if somebody cared and at that time that’s when you need someone to really care.
“After the operation I was able to walk up my driveway with no problem at all which made me very happy,” Robinson added.
For information regarding TAVR, the minimally invasive surgical procedure to replace the aortic value, call Danbury Hospital Heart Valve Center at (203) 739-6858.
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