A year ago, heart survivor Delmar Yarbro would have had no option to treat his severe aortic stenosis. His age and other medical conditions meant he wasn’t a candidate for traditional surgery to replace his heart valve.
The heart disease had severely limited Yarbro’s activities and detracted from his overall quality of life. He was frequently experiencing chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing during activity.
The Parsons, Tenn., resident wasn’t ready to give up all the things he enjoyed doing so much and was open to other options. Yarbro’s local cardiologist, Elie Hage-Korban, M.D., Heart & Vascular Center of West Tennessee, referred him to cardiovascular surgeon Seenu Reddy, M.D., at TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center in Nashville, Tenn., for a consultation.
“After meeting with Mr. Yarbro, I believed he would benefit most from the new transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, procedure recently approved in the United States and being performed at TriStar Centennial,” said Reddy. “I presented his case to our High Risk Valve Clinic (HRVC) team for consultation.”
This multi-disciplinary team of heart specialists consults together to pool vast experience and knowledge to develop personalized patient treatment plans, and then cares for and treats high-risk patients with heart disease.
Factors that make patients ‘high-risk’ include age and other medical conditions or considerations like cancer, bleeding disorders, a calcified aorta, or a chest wall deformity. Sometimes our surgeons are able to perform heart surgery for these patients. When heart surgery is not an option, non-operative treatment options can include medical therapy, balloon valvuloplasty, and the new transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure.
“Our High Risk Valve Clinic received and consulted on Mr. Yarbro’s case and determined he was a candidate for the new TAVR procedure,” said John Riddick, M.D., interventional cardiologist and HRVC leadership team member at TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center.
This gave Yarbro hope of regaining a quality of life that had been so drastically impacted by his heart condition.
When a patient has aortic stenosis, the heart valve doesn’t open the way it should to allow for healthy blood flow. The heart has to work harder to pump blood through the valve which causes symptoms including fatigue, fainting, pain, shortness of breath, dizziness with exertion, and the sensation of a rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Left untreated, aortic stenosis can lead to heart failure and death. Yarbro needed a new heart valve.
“We were confident the procedure would correct his valve condition and get him back to feeling better quickly,” said Riddick. “He agreed to be our first TAVR patient.”
Yarbro wasn’t scared when he learned he would be the team’s first patient to undergo this procedure.
“I worked until I was 86 years old and I knew I could handle the surgery,” he said. “I was ready and I trusted (the TriStar Centennial team).”
On May 22, Yarbro was the first patient to undergo the TAVR procedure at TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center. The procedure was performed by a multi-disciplined team of heart specialists in the center’s specially designed hybrid operating room.
A structural heart specialist, interventional cardiologist, heart failure specialist, cardiovascular imaging specialist, cardiovascular surgeon, cardiovascular anesthesiologist, and specially trained cardiovascular clinical staff worked side-by-side to perform the procedure. Through a small incision in the groin and special imaging and catheterization laboratory technology, they fed a new valve through the femoral artery and aorta to replace the old valve.
After his surgery, Yarbro’s appearance was drastically improved. The next day, he was walking around the hospital. Just three days after surgery, he was able to return home.
“The TAVR procedure was great for me. I don’t have a big scar on my chest and I feel great,” he said. “I would tell people the surgery is worth talking to their doctor about.”
At 87 years old, Yarbro is anxiously awaiting to start enjoying the little things in life that he had missed so much including exercising, maintaining his home, and spending time with family and friends. With rest and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation close to home, Yarbro should be back to normal activity by the end of the year.
“It has been wonderful to see the rapid recovery and normalization of life for this energetic and vibrant 87 year old man,” Reddy said.
Riddick believes this new procedure will change lives for a growing population of aging high-risk heart patients.
“The new TAVR procedure gives us an option to help heart patients that are unable to undergo the stress of heart surgery,” he said. “With new technology, techniques, and experienced heart specialists, we now have the ability to give patients like Mr. Yarbro a second chance at life.”
For more information on the High Risk Valve Clinic, TAVR procedure, and other cardiovascular services at the Heart & Vascular Center, visit TriStarHealth.com and select TriStar Centennial Medical Center or call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919 or (800) 242-5662.