Methodist Healthcare
July 01, 2014

Ninety-Three Year Old San Antonio Man with Severe Aortic Stenosis Among First South Texas patients to Benefit from New Valve

As many as 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with severe aortic stenosis (AS), a condition in which an abnormal narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve prevents the valve from opening or closing properly.  This decreases blood flow from the heart to the body.  AS is a very serious, life-threatening condition, which may lead to heart failure and increased risk for sudden cardiac death.  Untreated, these patients have a risk of dying that approaches 50 percent at one year after diagnosis.

Although open heart surgery is the treatment of choice for AS, about one-third of patients with this disease are not candidates for the surgery because they are too ill or too frail.  Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a procedure that involves implanting a replacement valve through a small incision in the groin or ribs, has proven to be a successful option for some of these patients.

Methodist Hospital is the only private hospital in San Antonio and South Texas offering the TAVR procedure using the new self-expanding Medtronic CoreValve System.  The CoreValve System received FDA approval in June 2014 for use in high risk patients after being approved for extremely high risk patients in January.  The first two patients in South Texas to use the new system were implanted at Methodist Hospital last week. 

“With the CoreValve system, we can treat more patients because of the broad range of CoreValve sizes,” said Dr. Jorge A. Alvarez, M.D., F.A.C.C., who was among the first cardiologists in the region to perform the TAVR procedure.   “It is a remarkable, technologically-advanced option for patients who are not good candidates for more invasive surgery.  Benefits of the CoreValve system include healthier heart outcomes and better quality of life for those who previously had no option.”  Dr. Alvarez is Medical Director, South Texas Heart Valve Center at Methodist Hospital.

With the CoreValve TAVR procedure, the CoreValve heart valve is attached to a wire frame and guided by catheter (thin flexible tube) to the heart.  Once in the proper position in the heart, the wire frame expands, allowing the new aortic valve to open and begin to pump blood. The CoreValve’s self-expanding frame provides controlled deployment, enabling physicians to accurately place the valve inside a patient’s original valve, which helps in treating patients with difficult or small vasculature.  The CoreValve is available in four sizes ranging from 23 mm to 31 mm, and it was developed to serve the needs of the broadest range of patients.

After the CoreValve TAVR procedure, the average patient can stand up and walk within 48 hours after the procedure and the average hospital stay is nine days.

Methodist Hospital is one of only 250 sites in the nation offering the TAVR procedure and the Methodist Hospital team has successfully completed more procedures than any other program in South Texas.   Methodist Hospital also is the only private hospital in South Texas offering three valve options for the TAVR procedure.