Needing a heart valve replacement used to mean open heart surgery, but now doctors are doing it in a much less invasive way.
“We call him Superman. He’s always been our Superman. We truly thought we were losing him,” says John Lieberman’s daughter, Amy.
He had a problem with one of his heart valves — a problem that nearly cost this Superman his life.
“I was sort like out of breath at times, if I went up the steps, and I would stop half way, or a third of the way, and then continue on,” he says.
Aortic stenosis happens when the aortic valve, becomes calcified, stiff and tight. The heart has to work harder to pump blood out to the body, and the heart gets weaker, leading to fatigue, shortness of breath and swelling in the legs.
Without any intervention, death is the usual outcome.
Typically, doctors would do surgery to fix the issue — take out the old valve, and sew in a new one — not a matter to take lightly.
“Once you start operating on people that are elderly, especially around the aortic valve, you “increase the risk of infections and stroke,” says Dr. Andy Kiser, a cardiac surgeon at St. Clair Hospital.
Doctors came up with a new way, called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement — or TAVR.