Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare’s (TMH) Structural Heart Team celebrated its 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) – an advanced, minimally-invasive procedure used to treat aortic stenosis, a heart disease characterized by narrowing of the aortic valve.
TMH’s multidisciplinary Structural Heart Program performs more TAVRs than any other heart program in northwest Florida. Ann Schaubel, 85, from Monticello, Florida, was the 1,000th patient to have the procedure at TMH. She’s now looking forward to resuming her favorite hobby, dance, and her involvement with her church in Monticello.
“I feel privileged to have lived such a beautiful life, and I’m grateful for the extra time I have to enjoy my loved ones thanks to the TAVR procedure,” Schaubel said. “Every doctor and staff member who played a role in my care were guardian angels. They were compassionate, loving and caring, and they anticipated my every need.”
When patients like Ms. Schaubel and their families are considering their options for TAVR, they want the most experienced care team possible. In northwest Florida and southern Georgia, that’s TMH.
“Since starting this program in 2012, we have expanded the patients who are eligible for this therapy while reducing most patients’ hospital stay to one night,” said Thomas Noel, MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist and Co-Chair of TMH’s Structural Heart Program. “Achieving this milestone reinforces to our region’s residents that they do not have to leave the area to access the most advanced heart care. It’s right here close to home at TMH.”
With the minimally invasive TAVR procedure, physicians replace the patient’s narrowed aortic valve while the heart is still beating and without having to open the chest. Performed in TMH’s state-of-the-art Cardiac Cath Lab, physicians use a catheter to deliver a stent-like prosthetic valve to the patient’s heart through a tiny incision in the groin, reopening the valve and restoring blood flow. There are currently three commercially approved TAVR devices; TMH is the only facility in the region to offer all three.
Schaubel was referred to TMH’s Structural Heart Team after developing chest pain and shortness of breath while dancing. She was taken to the emergency room where she was referred to general cardiologist Frank Gredler, MD and received an echocardiogram. At that time, she was diagnosed with aortic stenosis and congestive heart failure. After reviewing her case, the Structural Heart Team determined TAVR was the best option to restore her aortic valve function.
Common symptoms of aortic stenosis include:
- Shortness of breath, even at rest
- Chest pain or tightness
- Fainting (also called syncope)
- Extreme fatigue
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
TMH’s Structural Heart Team reviews patients’ cases and identifies the best individual care plans for treating their valvular heart disease, which may include minimally invasive interventions, like TAVR, or surgery.
“Our Valve Clinic brings together a vast array of cardiovascular experts to consult on each patient’s case,” said Pablo Rengifo-Moreno, MD, interventional cardiologist and Co-Chair of TMH’s Structural Heart Program. “This includes general and interventional cardiologists, heart surgeons, anesthesiologists and other allied health professionals, including nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants and imaging specialists. This collaborative approach offers patients more efficient access to a wide variety of care, ensuring they receive the best treatment for their individual needs.”
When TMH first began performing the procedure, TAVR was only available to patients with severe aortic stenosis who were deemed too high risk for traditional open-heart surgery. Today, TAVR is available for high-, intermediate- and low-risk patients. Following the procedure, patients typically feel immediate relief of symptoms, require just one overnight stay in the hospital and have quick recoveries.
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is a leader in the Southeast for routine and complex cardiovascular care. In partnership with Southern Medical Group, TMH offers patients access to a network of dozens of cardiovascular physicians across several specialties. These physicians perform more complex procedures and clinical research than any other at program in the Big Bend region.
To learn more about the advanced, comprehensive heart care offered at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, please visit TMH.ORG/Heart.
About Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare
Founded in 1948, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) is a private, not-for-profit community healthcare system committed to transforming care, advancing health, and improving lives with an ultimate vision to elevate the standards of healthcare practice, quality and innovation in the region. Serving a 21-county area in North Florida and South Georgia, TMH is comprised of a 772-bed acute care hospital, a surgery and adult ICU center, a psychiatric hospital, multiple specialty care centers, three residency programs, 38 affiliated physician practices and partnerships with Doctors’ Memorial Hospital, Florida State University College of Medicine, UF Health, Weems Memorial Hospital and Wolfson Children’s Hospital. For more information, visit TMH.ORG.