The Advantages of TAVR-A Minimally Invasive Procedure for Those with Heart Valve Disease

Procedure Option for Older and Sicker Heart Patients

Author: Sherry Farney



Before your blood gets pumped out of your heart to circulate through the body, it must pass through the aortic valve. If the aortic valve becomes narrowed or hardened, the condition known as aortic stenosis occurs, resulting in symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, fainting, and shortness of breath.

Aortic stenosis is a common heart valve disease and typically affects people over the age of 65. As symptoms progress, your cardiologist may suggest getting your aortic valve replaced.

However, if you are a go-getter like 78-year-old Frank Freeman of Flint, you may be unaware your aortic valve isn’t functioning properly. Fortunately, Frank, who has a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and, over time, has had four stents placed in his heart, visits his doctor regularly. It was during one of those visits in 2023 that his physician said something did not sound right, and Frank was referred to his cardiologist. Testing would later show his aortic valve was failing, and he was scheduled to meet with the clinical experts at McLaren Flint’s heart valve clinic.

The good news for Frank and others, is there is now a less invasive technique called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) that benefits patients without a long recovery time and hospital stay.

The procedure is performed through a small puncture in the groin or a small incision in the chest. The cardiac team inserts an artificial tissue valve, which is folded and then placed in a delivery catheter into the larger artery of the groin. Using X-ray views, the valve is then eased up to the heart, unfolded, and implanted at the site of the damaged valve, pushing it aside and taking over its function.

Interventional cardiologist and structural heart specialist Ahmad Munir, MD, discusses some of the advantages TAVR can provide.

TAVR Gets You Back on Your Feet Faster

Unlike conventional procedures that involve opening the chest, the TAVR procedure is done through a small incision commonly made near the groin area and uses a catheter to replace the heart valve.

“Patients are able to get back to their daily activities within a few days with very minimal restrictions,” said Dr. Munir.

Shorter Hospital Stay

“Patients used to stay in the hospital for five to seven days for a valve replacement procedure. Now with the introduction of TAVR, the procedure only takes about two hours, and a majority of the patients can go home the next day.”

Another advantage, is that patients with heart issues don’t have to travel out of the area to get the treatment they need.

TAVR Procedure Benefits Older Patients and Those with Severe Stenosis

“More patients in their 90’s are undergoing TAVR procedures,” said Dr. Munir. “With the procedure being minimally invasive, this makes our older patients and those who have more severe conditions TAVR candidates, and in turn providing a better quality of life.”

For Frank, the procedure meant he was right back to doing all the things he enjoys, including taking care of his rental homes and helping friends and family with home additions and repairs. He is always working on something. This winter it’s the wiring in his home.

“When they told me I was a prime candidate for TAVR that was good news,” said Frank. “It’s so much better than having to get your chest cracked open. Everyone at the clinic explained everything really well. I had a good experience. I started doing things like mowing my lawn before I was even supposed to.”

If you have been diagnosed with aortic stenosis and are experiencing an increase in symptoms, a TAVR might be an option for you. Click here to learn more about McLaren Flint’s comprehensive heart program.