Providence Health Care introduces innovative heart treatments locally

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Cardiologists and their patients now can take advantage of a heart valve replacement therapy at Providence Health Center (PHC) in Waco that just months ago required a trip to Dallas, Austin or Houston.

(Photo by Drake Lawson.)

Dr. Brian Barnett the director of PHC’s Structural Procedures department, said Wednesday the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure uses a state of the art series of devices that allow surgeons to repair damaged heart values without open heart surgery.

“Going in through the veins in the legs and using a catheter to replace heart valves means patients have an accelerated recovery time,” Barnett said, “They’re up and walking that day and going home.”

Thomas Davis, one of Barnett’s first patients to undergo the procedure in early October when the program began at Providence, already had undergone open heart surgery for a separate procedure, and he said between surgery and the TAVR, there simply is no comparison.

“When I had open heart surgery I was not recovered for six months, but with this, a week,” he said.

Barnett said candidates for the procedure are those patients who have severe aortic stenosis, a condition that effects the descending aorta, which is the main artery that carries blood out of the heart and to the lower part of the body, including all the organs.

Easily half of the patients who are diagnosed with aortic stenosis will die within a year unless they get intervention, Barnett said, but those who have their damaged valves replaced can live years longer.

The replacement valve are made from tissue harvested from the hearts of cattle, Barnett said.

If there is disease that prevents the aortic valve from properly working, it causes a reduction in blood flow and depriving the body of adequate circulation.

The idea of the surgery isn’t new, doctors have been replacing heart valves for years, but the way Barnett is doing it is beneficial to the patient’s recovery.

The procedure itself lasts only minutes, maybe half-an-hour, and the patient is awake during all of it, Barnett said.

Providence invested a bit more than $6 million to build and fit the surgery suite and there is another one, not exactly the same as TAVR, but similar, the hospital is working to install now.