Wonder if having transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is right for you? Learn how TAVR works and who qualifies for it from BCH cardiologist Srinivas Iyengar, MD. "TAVR was like a miracle for me," says Jim Timmermann, one of two recent TAVR patients who offer testimonials in the video below. Currently, TAVR is available in Boulder County only at Boulder Community Foothills Hospital.

Video transcript:

"My name is Dr. Srinivas Iyengar. I'm the Structural Heart director here at Boulder Community Health (BCH). Today I'd like to talk about some of the cutting-edge innovative procedures we're currently doing here.

One of them is called TAVR, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement. This procedure is for patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis is a calcification of the aortic valve which if untreated will lead eventually to heart failure and unfortunately, death.

“I had my aortic heart valve replaced with open-heart surgery and that valve wore out," says Timmermann, an active 78-year-old Boulder County resident who had a TAVR procedure at BCH’s Foothills Hospital in 2018. "My stamina was dropping off, I was short of breath and having difficulty breathing.”

“One of my valves was not functioning, which meant that the flow of blood was less and my energy was less. I didn't know it I just thought it was something to do with age,” says Sarah Massameno, an 83-year-old Boulder resident who also had TAVR done in Boulder in 2018.

“Sarah had severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis but was very concerned that any invasive procedure could reduce her quality of life even further,” says Dr. Iyengar.

“Patients who are intermediate or high risk for open-heart surgery are candidates for the TAVR procedure. Unlike open-heart surgery, TAVR does not require invasive surgery. TAVR is a minimally invasive way of delivering a valve through a catheter. Currently, Boulder Community Health is the only medical center in Boulder County performing this procedure.”

How TAVR works

"We put a catheter with the TAVR device into the artery of the groin or the arm, and it comes up to the heart. Once the valve enters the old aortic valve, we release it and it actually takes the place of the old valve without removing it. Once this valve has unfurled, or opened up, it starts functioning immediately. There's no need for any sutures. There's no need for any type of bypass. At this point, the valve is fully functional," says Dr. Iyengar.

"These procedures take less than 90 minutes and patients can actually walk the same day after receiving the valve, then recover much quicker than they would have with a typical open-heart procedure," he adds.

“The recovery period is at least six weeks with open-heart surgery. With TAVR, I don't think I had a recovery period. So the TAVR procedure was like a miracle for me,” says Timmermann.

Is TAVR right for you?

“Medicare and most commercial insurance policies cover TAVR, so not to worry. This is not an experimental procedure. This is an FDA-approved procedure that's been done on thousands of patients safely,” Dr. Iyengar says.

“It was an investment in my future. If TAVR is an option, I’d say go for it. It changed my life. Part of the process of healing is the confidence you have in who treats you. I felt the way I was treated here was as if I was the only patient,” says Massameno.

“I highly recommend Boulder Community Health and Boulder Heart for anybody with heart issues. I've trusted them with my life twice and I've won both times,” says Timmermann.

If you’d like to learn more about TAVR and if TAVR is right for you, please call our TAVR program coordinator today at 303-415-8898 to schedule an appointment for a screening.