Is TAVR a Better Option for Me Compared to Open Heart Surgery?

In 2017, I learned I had aortic stenosis. I knew I had a heart murmur when I was young. However, I was told it was a functional murmur and not to worry.

I made an appointment with a cardiologist who did an EKG. He said I had aortic stenosis but it was moderate. I was both shocked and scared. I had no idea my heart was in such bad shape.

Complications from open heart surgery

In spring of 2018, I had my second EKG. [My cardiologist] said my stenosis was severe and I needed open heart surgery to replace the aortic valve. This added to the worries that I and my family had.

In June [of that year], I had my open heart surgery. They not only replaced the aortic [valve and] bicuspid valve, but they had to put a Dacron sleeve on my aorta.

A week later, when I was expected to be released from the hospital, my heart was going into AFib (atrial fibrillation) continuously. They did an ultrasound and saw there was fluid in both lungs as well. They drained about a gallon fluid [from] my left lung.

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It's amazing how important your heart is

My surgeon said they had to take me back into surgery and put a drain in to release the fluid. When I awoke in the ICU, I learned that they needed to do the open heart surgery all over again. There was a tear in my left ventricle.

I was in the hospital for 17 days. I felt I was physically "emptied" of all life. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. It's amazing how important your heart is! My faith in God and my loving husband kept me going through the darkest time in my life.

Developing shortness of breath and fatigue

I went through cardiac rehab and continued caring for my family and community choir. I was on heart medication and had to get checked every 6 months to make sure my valve was functioning properly.

A few years later, I was increasingly short of breath and could not walk long distances. I checked in with my cardiologist, and he said my heart was starting to degenerate. They normally give a tissue valve 8 to 10 years. For me, it had only been 5.

My new heart valve was too small

I talked to a different surgeon. He said the valve they put in was too small. He called it a "mismatch."

Both he and my cardiologist explained what a TAVR procedure was and thought that would be a good option for me. I did not want another open heart surgery at this time. They said the TAVR is less invasive, and I would only be in the hospital a few days.

Besides putting a valve inside of my replacement tissue valve, they would have to "fracture" the replacement valve to make it larger. This procedure is more complicated!

Waiting for TAVR

In waiting for the TAVR procedure, I have been cardioverted 3 times. My heart has been going into A-flutter. Thus, I needed the cardioversion. I did not hear of A-flutter before!

I don't think the TAVR is the ultimate answer, but it will buy me more time before I have to have open heart surgery again.

My condition is hereditary

I now know that bicuspid aortic valves are hereditary.1

My sister also had one and had to have open heart surgery to replace it. She is doing better than I am.

I am so looking forward to having more energy and not being out of breath.

Hoping for a better experience with TAVR

I am open to people about my heart journey. The first surgeon assured me that there was only a 2 percent chance of complications with my first surgery.

I am hoping I will have a better chance with the TAVR procedure.

Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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