Health Beat: Transcatheter aortic valve replacement

Health Beat: Transcatheter aortic valve replacement

DALLAS - Harry Forbes and his wife enjoy taking care of the flowers on the patio outside their apartment in Dallas.

Until recently, Forbes, 95, could barely walk across the room. He suffered from severe aortic stenosis. Because of his age, doctors said he wasn't a candidate for open-heart surgery. Now, he can walk a half-mile and lift weights.

Forbes took part in a clinical trial using a procedure called "TAVR," transcatheter aortic valve replacement.

During the procedure, doctors operate through a small, thin tube, inserted in the patient's leg. The artificial valve begins working immediately.

Researchers studied the results of 800 heart surgeries nationwide and found, after one year, the rate of death was much lower in the TAVR group than the patients who had traditional surgery.

Forbes has no doubt TAVR saved his life.

"It is miraculous," he said.

One of the greatest benefits of the procedure is that the recovery time is cut down from several months to a few hours or days.

Dr. Robert Stoler, co-director of the division of cardiology at Baylor Heart & Vascular Hospital in Dallas, has been heavily involved in TAVR.

The Baylor Heart & Vascular Hospital is one of 45 national sites taking part in the clinical study.

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