HealthWatch: Helping High Risk Hearts

Published 04/20 2014 11:45PM

Updated 04/25 2014 09:33PM

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again.

"I'd probably iron a couple pieces and then have to come out here and sit down and rest," Roy told Ivanhoe.

Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.

"I didn't think I was going to make it," she said. "I couldn't breathe."

Because of her age, 82, and other health problems, she was considered a high risk patient.

"[They] said no way could I ever be operated on," she said.

Left untreated, Augusto Villa, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and Medical Director of the Valve Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. says 50 percent of patients will die within two years.

"Their prognosis is extremely poor," Dr. Villa told Ivanhoe. "It's as poor as lung cancer. In five years, only 4 percent will survive."

Now there's a new option for patients who can't have open heart surgery, known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR. A balloon catheter is placed through either the groin or ribs. Once in position, it inflates, placing the artificial heart valve and restoring blood flow.

"I think it's an amazing, amazing technology," Dr. Villa said.

Unlike traditional surgery, the heart continues to beat during the TAVR procedure and there's no need to place a patient on a heart-lung machine. Patients can go home in four to five days and expect to get back to normal activities in one to two weeks.

A month after surgery, Roy is back doing chores, thankful that she can.

"I cook. I do dishes. I do laundry," she said.

Copyright Copyright 2014 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.