The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has significantly expanded the number of patients diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis who will be able to receive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a less invasive approach to aortic valve replacement.

Open heart surgery and TAVR are the two standard treatments for patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aorta). TAVR, a relatively recent innovation, is a minimally invasive, catheter-delivered procedure. TAVR had become the primary option for patients whose age or physical condition disqualified them from having open heart surgery.

The new FDA ruling means that younger and more active patients with severe aortic stenosis will now have the option of TAVR as well as open heart surgery.

BCH's Boulder Heart is the only cardiology program in Boulder County performing TAVR. Drs. Srinivas Iyengar and Daniel O’Hair have performed more than 1,500 successful TAVR procedures, more than any other team in Colorado.

According to Dr. Iyengar, the benefits are clear: “With TAVR, a patient’s diseased aortic valve is replaced with a new valve through a minimally invasive procedure that usually takes less than an hour. Recovery is quicker and there’s less chance of a disabling stroke. By comparison, open heart surgery is a major procedure with a much longer recovery period.”

How Does TAVR Work?

TAVR is performed by an interventional cardiologist-led team in a specialized operating room equipped with advanced imaging equipment at Foothills Hospital. Similar to a stent placed in an artery, the TAVR procedure uses a catheter, inserted through a patient’s groin, to thread a sophisticated artificial valve all the way to the heart, maneuvering it into the site of the old valve.

The replacement valve widens the valve opening and takes over the job of regulating blood flow, allowing patients to enjoy longer lives and return to their favorite activities. The TAVR procedure is usually completed in less than an hour, with most patients able to return home after a day or two.

Full Service Cardiology at BCH

The BCH TAVR team is the most experienced in Colorado. Dr. Iyengar, a highly experienced interventional cardiologist who has successfully performed more than 400 TAVR procedures, trained at the institution where TAVR was introduced to the United States, while Dr. O’Hair teaches other cardiologists around the world how to perform TAVR. All patients are carefully assessed by our expert team to determine which aortic procedure is best for each individual patient.

"Boulder Community Health has established itself as a leader in the community not only by investing in TAVR technology but also in the skill and experience needed to deliver the leading-edge care that our community deserves," said Jeff Reed, director of Cardiology at BCH. "Dr. Iyengar has successfully completed hundreds of cases -- not just TAVR, but also other complex minimally invasive procedures like Watchman, Mitraclip and PFO closures. Combining that expertise with our exceptional cardiothoracic surgery team headed by Dr. O'Hair and Dr. Bryan Mahan enables us to provide our patients with cardiac care that’s second to none."

To make an appointment for a TAVR assessment, or if you have further questions about heart valve disease, contact Boulder Heart’s Structural Heart Team at 303-442-2395. BCH operates four Boulder Heart clinics conveniently located across Boulder County.