Structural Heart Program

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Care for Your Heart Valves, Walls, Chambers and Muscles

Structural heart disease can occur due to several reasons, including problems in the structure or function of the heart valves or issues with the walls, chambers or muscles in your heart.

A multidisciplinary team of interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, electrophysiologists and registered nurses work collaboratively to develop a care plan for each patient.

Treatment and Diagnosis

Patients experiencing severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis may benefit from the less-invasive option of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, also known as TAVR. Patients who have atrial fibrillation (AFib) may qualify for a Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion with WATCHMAN FLX as an alternative to lifelong medication.

TAVR

As many as 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis each year, which causes the aortic valve leaflets to calcify and become stiff. This stiffness causes a person’s heart to work harder to push blood through the valve.

TAVR is a catheter-based procedure to replace a narrowed aortic valve and increase blood flow from the heart to the body.

Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis

Symptoms of aortic stenosis can include:

  • An irregular heart sound, also known as a murmur
  • Shortness of breath, especially with activity
  • Fatigue, especially with activity
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness or fainting

What is TAVR?

  • What is the TAVR procedure like?
    • This minimally invasive procedure uses a catheter through small incisions in the groin to replace the narrowed aortic valve.
  • Who is a candidate for TAVR?
    • All patients with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis qualify for a TAVR evaluation.
  • Who performs the TAVR procedure?
    • The TAVR procedure is performed by a multidisciplinary team of an interventional cardiologist, a cardiothoracic surgeon and cardiac cath lab staff.
  • What is recovery after TAVR like?
    •  Most patients are able to return home the day after their procedure, and most patients have seen symptom improvement within 30 days.
    • Patients may experience aches and pains, which is normal during the healing process.
    • Patients are instructed to not perform heavy lifting or strenuous activities for seven to 10 days after TAVR.

WATCHMAN FLX

People with AFib, an irregular heartbeat that can feel like a quivering heart, have a five times greater risk of stroke, compared to those with a normal heart rhythm. The WATCHMAN FLX device closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage to keep harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. Over time, the risk of stroke is reduced, and patients may be able to stop taking their blood thinner medication.

Symptoms of Stroke and AFib

Symptoms can include:

  • Fluttering in the chest above the heart
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

What is WATCHMAN FLX?

  • Who is a candidate for WATCHMAN?
    • Patients who have nonvascular AFib, a type of irregular heart rhythm, that isn’t caused by heart valve issues, may be candidates for the WATCHMAN device.
  • Who performs the WATCHMAN procedure?
    • The WATCHMAN procedure is performed by a multidisciplinary team of either an interventional cardiologist or an electrophysiologist, cardiac anesthesiologist and cardiac cath lab staff.
  • What is recovery from WATCHMAN like?
    • Most patients are able to return home the day after their procedure.
    • Patients are instructed to not perform heavy lifting or strenuous activities for seven to 10 days after WATCHMAN.
    • Patients may experience aches and pains, which is normal during the healing process.
    • Following the procedure, your heart tissue will grow over the implant to form a permanent barrier to prevent blood clots. Your doctor will monitor this growth to avoid complications.

Our Structural Heart Team

  • Theodore Pratt, MD, FACS – Cardiothoracic Surgeon, TAVR
  • Kevin Linkus, MD, FACS, FACC – Cardiothoracic Surgeon, TAVR
  • Devang M. Desai, MD, FACC, FCSAI – Interventional Cardiologist, TAVR and WATCHMAN
  • Ram Challapalli, MD, FACC – Electrophysiologist, WATCHMAN
  • Casey Gustafson, MSN, RN, CCRN – Structural Heart Coordinator

If you want to learn more about our Structural Heart Program, call our structural heart program coordinator at 775-481-6587.

If you need a referral to a physician at Northern Nevada Health System, call our free physician referral service at 775-356-6662.