Aortic Valve Replacement with TAVR: What is it like?

Posted by karen1945 @karen1945, May 17 9:58am

I am 75 years old with severe aortic stenosis. My doctor has recommended a valve replacement with the TAVR procedure. I had a heart catheterization two weeks ago that precipitated a “brain attack” that was terrifying. I spent that night on the neurology floor, and was released the next afternoon after completely recovering from the stroke. Now I am terrified of having them going into my arteries and heart again, for fear of another stroke that could leave me permanently incapacitated, or even kill me. I’m scheduled to have a CT cardiac angiogram exam to see if the TAVR approach is even possible. I don’t know whether to take my chances with the stenosis and let nature take its course, or risk the procedure. Before the stroke I was okay with it, but now it seems that I could be cutting my life short, rather than being able to enjoy what time is left. I cry a lot and pray a lot. I simply have no idea what I should do. My symptoms are mild. I was chalking them up to old age before I was told I had severe stenosis. I’m told the risks of the procedure are small, but if it affects you, it’s 100% 😞

Hello @karen1948 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I can certainly understand your concern about having another procedure that might result in another "brain attack" and/or stroke.

I would encourage you to get a second opinion at a heart care center. Please know that it is always a patient's right to get a second opinion.
There are several of these centers in different parts of the U.S. I see from your profile that you are a resident of Florida. Are you aware that there is a Mayo Clinic facility in Jacksonville, FL?

Here is the link to get appointment information, https://www.mayoclinic.org/appointments?

Did your current cardiologist give you any reason in particular why you had this happened to you after the catheterization?

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@hopeful33250

Hello @karen1948 and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I can certainly understand your concern about having another procedure that might result in another "brain attack" and/or stroke.

I would encourage you to get a second opinion at a heart care center. Please know that it is always a patient's right to get a second opinion.
There are several of these centers in different parts of the U.S. I see from your profile that you are a resident of Florida. Are you aware that there is a Mayo Clinic facility in Jacksonville, FL?

Here is the link to get appointment information, https://www.mayoclinic.org/appointments?

Did your current cardiologist give you any reason in particular why you had this happened to you after the catheterization?

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Thank you, Teresa. This was my second opinion. I had gone to a cardiologist in my town who did not instill confidence in me. I then went to Mayo Clinic, and that is where I had the catheterization. I was told that the stroke could have been caused by some calcium deposits in the aorta that broke away and went to my brain. After I was treated, the neurologist said that there were just three tiny spots of brain damage, and I am grateful that there are no residual effects. If the stroke had happened at the heart/vascular center where I would have been if I’d stayed with my original cardiologist, I don’t know if I would have had the same outcome. I spent the 24 hours on the Neurology floor at Mayo with excellent care.

I will be having a CT cardiac angiogram at Mayo next week. After that, I’ll talk to the surgeon and get more questions answered. This is such a hard decision. If I have another stroke, my life as I know it could be over. I might not even survive the TAVR procedure. I’ll know more next week. Hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

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@karen1945

Thank you, Teresa. This was my second opinion. I had gone to a cardiologist in my town who did not instill confidence in me. I then went to Mayo Clinic, and that is where I had the catheterization. I was told that the stroke could have been caused by some calcium deposits in the aorta that broke away and went to my brain. After I was treated, the neurologist said that there were just three tiny spots of brain damage, and I am grateful that there are no residual effects. If the stroke had happened at the heart/vascular center where I would have been if I’d stayed with my original cardiologist, I don’t know if I would have had the same outcome. I spent the 24 hours on the Neurology floor at Mayo with excellent care.

I will be having a CT cardiac angiogram at Mayo next week. After that, I’ll talk to the surgeon and get more questions answered. This is such a hard decision. If I have another stroke, my life as I know it could be over. I might not even survive the TAVR procedure. I’ll know more next week. Hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

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@karen1945

I am glad that you are getting such good care at Mayo. I know that you feel confident about it and that is so important. I can certainly understand how you would feel worried about making this decision. I hope that after you get the results from the CT cardiac angiogram you will feel more confident.

I have aortic insufficiency, however, my problem will require open-heart surgery rather than the TAVR procedure. I feel frightened about that prospect as well. So far, I'm keeping my original parts until they cause me more problems. I have a mild case of heart failure but not congestive heart failure at this time. I do have a lack of stamina and just can't accomplish what I would like.

What are your main symptoms of aortic stenosis?

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@hopeful33250 Hi Teresa If you have to ever have open heart go in with confidence that all will be well. I had open heart with 3 veins taken from my leg for my by pass It was an easy operation yes you will be uncomfortable for a while but nothing you won't be able to handle .I'm seeing my cardiologist tomorrow it's routine but I have some heaviness now when going uphill I'm concerned about

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@hopeful33250 Your special so just wanted you to lnow

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@hopeful33250

@karen1945

I am glad that you are getting such good care at Mayo. I know that you feel confident about it and that is so important. I can certainly understand how you would feel worried about making this decision. I hope that after you get the results from the CT cardiac angiogram you will feel more confident.

I have aortic insufficiency, however, my problem will require open-heart surgery rather than the TAVR procedure. I feel frightened about that prospect as well. So far, I'm keeping my original parts until they cause me more problems. I have a mild case of heart failure but not congestive heart failure at this time. I do have a lack of stamina and just can't accomplish what I would like.

What are your main symptoms of aortic stenosis?

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My main symptom is fatigue. I run out of steam much earlier in the day than I used to, and I am a little short of breath after climbing a flight of stairs. I thought that was just a sign of getting old. Nothing dramatic. I was shocked to learn I have severe stenosis.

I have prior experience with Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. I have total confidence in them. When the local cardiologist started talking about surgery, I knew that my best choice would be Mayo.

I will ask the surgeon about delaying surgery until my symptoms worsen, or if it is better to take care of it now.

Best of luck to you, Teresa. These decisions are not easy. We just have to get all the information we can, weigh the odds, and make an informed decision. Putting all our faith and confidence in the hands of other people is difficult!

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Hi @karen1945

Since you have shortness of breath it might be good to take care of it sooner rather than later, but only you and your doctor can decide that, especially given your experience with catheterization.

Do you know what your Ejection Fraction is? It might be listed as EF on an echocardiogram or other cardiac test. My EF stays around 60 – 65 which means my heart is still functioning at a pretty good level. If that begins to drop, I will probably have to do something sooner rather than later.

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@hopeful33250

Hi @karen1945

Since you have shortness of breath it might be good to take care of it sooner rather than later, but only you and your doctor can decide that, especially given your experience with catheterization.

Do you know what your Ejection Fraction is? It might be listed as EF on an echocardiogram or other cardiac test. My EF stays around 60 – 65 which means my heart is still functioning at a pretty good level. If that begins to drop, I will probably have to do something sooner rather than later.

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My EF by method of disc is 57%, and 2-chamber EF by method of discs is 61%.

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@karen1945

My EF by method of disc is 57%, and 2-chamber EF by method of discs is 61%.

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Hi @karen1945

I'm not familiar with the terms "method of disc" and 2-chamber EF by the method of disc." I'll have to look that up.

Do you have diastolic dysfunction (where your heart stays stiff rather than relaxing)?

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@hopeful33250

Hi @karen1945

I'm not familiar with the terms "method of disc" and 2-chamber EF by the method of disc." I'll have to look that up.

Do you have diastolic dysfunction (where your heart stays stiff rather than relaxing)?

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That I don’t know.

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@karen1945

That I don’t know.

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@karen1945, I googled the terms, but I found the explanations to be too complicated for me to grasp. However, it appears that different muscle groups within the heart can have different electrical strengths and this is what is being measured.

Are you currently taking beta-blocker meds or ACE inhibitors?

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@hopeful33250

@karen1945, I googled the terms, but I found the explanations to be too complicated for me to grasp. However, it appears that different muscle groups within the heart can have different electrical strengths and this is what is being measured.

Are you currently taking beta-blocker meds or ACE inhibitors?

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No. I’ve always had fairly low blood pressure, but lately it’s been erratic. Perhaps due to the stress I’m feeling over this. I put on Kevin Kern music and it goes down.

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