New offering provides lifesaving alternative to open heart surgery for valve repair

BMI The Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle is the first private hospital in the north west to offer a new procedure for people who cannot have open heart surgery but whose lives depend on it.

People with severe aortic valve problems can now have their valve fixed using a less invasive procedure, trans catheter valve implantation (TAVI). This helps people suffering from aortic stenosis - narrowing of the aortic valve - but who are too weak to have open heart surgery, or have other medical conditions which make it too risky.

Doug Fraser, Consultant Cardiologist at BMI The Alexandra Hospital said: “While the current advice is that replacement of the aortic valve by open heart surgery offers the best long –term outcomes for young patients with aortic stenosis, many older people or those with other medical conditions just aren't suitable for that kind of invasive surgery.

“In those cases we can now offer patients the TAVI, which really is a lifesaver for those with severe aortic stenosis,” Mr Fraser added. “It’s a much less invasive procedure than open heart surgery, with less pain and a shorter stay in hospital. Recovery times are shorter, typically 2 to 3 weeks as opposed to 6 to 8 weeks, and success rates are very high.”Aortic stenosis occurs when the valve opening progressively narrows and obstructs blood flow, forcing the heart to pump harder and harder until the heart will eventually fail if untreated. The condition can become extremely debilitating and is life threatening if not treated in time. The symptoms of aortic stenosis include; chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath and a reduced ability to do even gentle exercise. 

During the TAVI procedure, a small tube with a balloon at its tip is inserted into an artery either in the groin, under the collarbone, or through a small cut in the breast bone. The catheter is passed into the heart and positioned within the opening of the aortic valve.

The balloon is then gently inflated to make room for the new tissue valve, which is placed in position.  The new valve either expands by itself or is expanded using the balloon, depending on which type of valve is used and the balloon is deflated before the balloon and tube are removed. The new valve sits inside the damaged valve to allow the heart to function normally once again.

Patients are usually home within a few days, and may even be able to go home the following day if the procedure can be performed via the arteries in the groin.

Stanley Browne patient TAVI procedureThe TAVI procedure gave 80 year old Stanley Browne his active life back. Stanley, a retired businessman had his procedure at the new ‘hybrid cath lab’ at BMI The Alexandra Hospital in February. Stanley, who lives in Altrincham with his wife Elizabeth, had been suffering from aortic stenosis caused by calcium build up on the opening of his aortic valve. He had been getting progressively worsening symptoms for the last 5 years, making it difficult for him to breathe and causing severe tiredness which affected his ability to enjoy his life.  

“I really was terribly fatigued - to the point where I was too exhausted to do the things I love doing. I’m a very social guy,” Stanley says laughing. “I like going out and eating, drinking, meeting friends and so on, and I really couldn't do that whilst I was so poorly. It made for a pretty miserable existence.”

Stanley's GP told him that he needed to have the TAVI procedure and referred him to a cardiologist. However, with the waiting time for the procedure between 12 and 18 months or longer with the NHS, Stanley decided to look for the procedure privately at The Alexandra, using his medical insurance.

“I had the procedure on the Saturday, and I walked out of the hospital at 11am the following day. It was incredible. The operation itself only took an hour and a half!” exclaims Derek.

Such was Stanley's recovery and the improvement in his condition, four days after his discharge from hospital he hosted his own 80th birthday party at home for friends and family.

“I want to let people know that this procedure is a piece of cake and, that if they need it, they should go for it! So many people are frightened by the idea of having a cardiac procedure but they needn't be with the TAVI. The care I received at BMI The Alexandra was incredible, they literally had my life in their hands and gave me my love of life back.”

The TAVI procedure is one of a number of treatments available at BMI The Alexandra's new hybrid cardiac suite. The £2.4m facility is one of the most advanced in Europe. It provides both high quality diagnostics for cardiac, vascular and neurological problems and a sterile theatre in which procedures can be carried out. 

Categories: Health

Date: 12th July 2017