Bellin Health Celebrates 100th TAVR Heart Procedure

Health system was among first in the nation to perform high-tech valve fix

Bellin Health patients and physicians will celebrate the health system’s 100th high-tech TAVR heart valve procedure during a gathering from 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19 in the atrium at Bellin College, 3201 Eaton Road, Bellevue.

About two dozen patients who have had the valve procedure, along with their families, physicians and other Bellin Health representatives, are expected to attend the celebration. It will begin with hors d’oeuvres and the chance to mingle before three Bellin physicians — Dr. Paul Hudson, Dr. Steven Gerndt and Dr. Kevin Greer — make remarks beginning at about 5:45 p.m.

Short for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, TAVR is an alternative option when open heart surgery to treat aortic valve stenosis poses too high a risk to the patient. Aortic valve stenosis is a form of heart valve disease in which the aortic valve is unable to open normally. The tight valve restricts blood flow through the heart, meaning less oxygen-rich flood is pumped to the body. This results in symptoms like severe shortness of breath, chest pain and episodes of passing out during activity.

“The aortic valve acts as the main gatekeeper for the heart. When our patients develop symptoms from a tight aortic valve, their risk of cardiac events and death increases significantly,” said Hudson, director of the Bellin Health Valve Center. “Unfortunately, 30 to 40 percent of our

patients with severe symptomatic aortic valve stenosis are untreated due to their advanced age, other cardiac conditions or severe frailty. With TAVR, we have an effective option to help our patients live longer, with a better quality of life.”

The Bellin Health Heart and Vascular Team performed its 100th TAVR procedure in June, three years after becoming one of the first health systems in the nation to perform the high-tech fix. Rather than opening the chest of the patient, the TAVR procedure allows a surgeon to use less invasive methods to access and repair the aortic valve. Bellin remains the only health system in Northeast Wisconsin that offers the procedure, which it now has performed 106 times.

Prior to the availability of the TAVR procedure, many candidates faced a slow deterioration of their health, with open heart surgery being too risky an option to correct their failing valve. Without an aortic valve replacement, approximately 50 percent of individuals with severe aortic stenosis have a life expectancy of two years.

“Instead, here we are,” said Andrea Werner, Bellin Health vice president of Heart, Lung and Vascular Services. “One hundred-plus cases later and we’re giving patients and families an option for greater long-term survival and improved quality of life.” 

Click here to learn more about TAVR.