ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –Elderly or high-risk patients who would not be able to tolerate open-heart surgery now have a new life-saving option in New Mexico.
A multi-disciplinary team led by Dr. Peter Walinsky, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Presbyterian Heart Group, performed the first successful transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures in New Mexico last week.
TAVR is a groundbreaking, minimally invasive therapy for patients who suffer from severe symptomatic native aortic valve stenosis (AS), or a narrowing of the heart valve. With this approach, the aortic valve is replaced with a prosthetic valve via the femoral artery in a patient’s leg or the left ventricular apex of the heart, rather than with open-heart surgery.
Presbyterian Hospital is one of a select group of medical centers across the country –and the only one in New Mexico—to offer this innovative procedure to patients who qualify. The surgery is performed in Presbyterian Hospital’s state-of-the-art hybrid operating room.
Symptoms of severe AS include chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting and fatigue, which can make even a short walk difficult, Walinsky said. Many patients now eligible for TAVR are in their 80s and have other health conditions. Their typical prognosis is less than two years.
“These are patients who are deemed inoperable or extremely high risk for open-heart surgery,” said Dr. Walinsky. “These are people who would not otherwise get an operation.”
After the TAVR procedure, the goal is for patients to be “fully functional with a good quality of life,” he added. “That’s really what we want to restore.”
The FDA approved TAVR last year after studies showed significantly lower one-year mortality rates among patients who had the surgery compared to those who received only medication.
Another TAVR procedure was performed today and all three patients who have had the surgery are recovering successfully. Four more surgeries are scheduled for January and screening will continue for qualifying patients.
About Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Presbyterian Healthcare Services exists to improve the health of patients, members and the communities we serve. Presbyterian was founded in New Mexico in 1908, and is the state’s only private, not-for-profit healthcare system. Presbyterian has eight hospitals, a statewide health plan, and a growing multi-specialty medical group. Presbyterian is the second largest private employer in New Mexico with more than 9,000 employees.