Saint Luke’s News: Advanced Heart Valve Disease Treatment Options

Person holding model of a human heart

The number of people in the United States suffering from heart valve disease is rising. More than 5 million people are diagnosed with the condition every year, according to the American College of Cardiology. 

In order to meet this rising demand, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute has established a comprehensive multidisciplinary Valve Center dedicated to the latest surgical and catheter-based therapies for patients with complex valvular disease.

Valve disease can attack any of the four heart valves: mitral, tricuspid, aortic, and pulmonary and can occur either through regurgitation—a leaking of the valve—or stenosis—a narrowing of the valve.

Signs and symptoms of valve disease can vary. A heart murmur can be a sign of potential heart valve disease, as well as fatigue or shortness of breath while doing normal activities. Other warning signs can include chest discomfort, dizziness or lightheadedness, and leg swelling.

“A lot of our patients, for example, were walking around the grocery store and doing yard work, and now they just have a more difficult time doing it,” said Katie Jaschke, an Advanced Practice Provider with Saint Luke’s Valve Program. “The first signs that something may be wrong is daily activities that used to be easy start to become more difficult.”

In the past, the only option for patients involved open-heart surgery.  This option involves placing the patient on cardiac bypass and significant recovery time for the patient.  In addition, many patients were not candidates for surgery either due to advanced age or other health related issues.  The advent of minimally invasive techniques gave these patients treatment options where before there were none.

“As our population ages, the number of people impacted by valve disease is steadily growing,” said Keith Allen, M.D., Saint Luke’s Structural Heart Surgical Director. “As that happens there is an increasing demand for programs that can properly diagnose the patient and deliver the most appropriate treatment.”

Saint Luke’s Valve Center offers patients access to a highly skilled team of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons to provide diagnosis, evaluation and treatment. Options may include medication, surgical valve repair or replacement, and innovative nonsurgical and less-invasive techniques such as TAVR and MitraClip.

“Research is continuing to demonstrate the effectiveness of minimally invasive treatments both in terms of outcomes and overall impact on quality of life,” said Adnan Chhatriwalla, M.D., interventional cardiologist and Saint Luke’s Structural Heart Medical Director. “At Saint Luke’s we are continuing to lead the way in offering patients access not only to the latest techniques but also far sooner than they are available elsewhere in the country.”

Among the multiple innovative minimally invasive treatment options offered by Saint Luke’ including TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) and MitraClip.

TAVR is a procedure in which a new aortic valve is placed through catheters into the old, damaged valve. Saint Luke’s has been performing the traditional TAVR procedure for more than a decade, one of the first hospitals in the country and the first in Kansas City to offer the procedure, and ranks top in the nation in terms of survival.  It is less invasive and associated with better outcomes than going through an incision in the chest.  TAVR not only offers a much less invasive option for patients but also dramatically reduced recovery time - often patients leave the hospital within 24 hours, as opposed to the several weeks of recovery required for traditional open-heart surgery.  In addition, research has demonstrated that patients have an easier time completing daily tasks as well as a better quality of life after the procedure.  While TAVR is traditionally performed through the arteries in the leg, the team at Saint Luke’s is one of the most experienced in the world at performing TAVR through the carotid arteries in the neck when the arteries in the leg are not suitable.  TAVR can even be performed in patients with failed surgical valves, and Saint Luke’s has extensive experience performing this complex procedure as well. 

Saint Luke’s was also one of the country’s first hospitals to perform the MitraClip procedure and remains one of only nine in the Midwest region offering this procedure to patients. MitraClip repairs a leaking mitral valve without the need for an invasive surgical procedure. The MitraClip device is delivered to the heart through the veins in the leg and works by clipping together a portion of the leaflets of the mitral valve in order to reduce the backflow of blood, which allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently, thereby relieving symptoms and improving patient quality of life. Patients undergoing MitraClip treatment experience short recovery times and typically leave the hospital the day following the procedure.

Saint Luke’s received certification in Cardiac Valve Repair and Replacement by The Joint Commission in October 2018. It is one of three programs in the country with this designation and is the only one in Kansas and Missouri.

Learn more about Saint Luke’s valve treatments or to schedule an appointment with Saint Luke’s Valve Center call 816-932-8258.

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