About Aortic Stenosis
Your heart contains four valves. These valves make sure that the blood flows through your heart in the correct direction. The aortic valve is on the left side of your heart and opens when the blood is pumped from your heart to the rest of your body.
Aortic stenosis is the term used when the aortic valve is narrowed or cannot open properly, so the blood can’t flow easily out of your heart to the rest of your body.
Aortic stenosis puts extra strain on your heart and can affect your blood circulation. This can result in breathlessness, swollen ankles, chest pain, dizziness, and, sometimes, blackouts as well.
The type of procedure that your cardiologist and your cardiac surgeon have recommended for you is called a transcatheter aortic valve implant or TAVI for short.
For people with aortic valve problems, the usual treatment is open heart surgery to repair or replace the aortic valve.
However, open-heart surgery may not be the best option for people who are older or unwell, or who have already had one or more heart surgeries in the past.
The TAVI procedure for implanting aortic valves through a catheter is less invasive and may reduce your recovery time and length of hospital stay.
Transcatheter means the new valve is guided into place with a catheter instead of the traditional open-heart surgery.
Usually, the catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel in your groin or through a small incision in your chest.
Transcatheter Aortic Valves
Transcatheter aortic valves are designed to be implanted using a long, narrow tube called a catheter. The catheter can be inserted through a large artery in your groin or through a small incision in your chest.
The valve is made of natural tissue from the heart of either a cow or a pig. The natural tissue is reengineered and attached to a flexible expanding mesh frame.
Below are two examples of the valves that are used in a TAVI procedure.
To insert it into the heart, the valve is squeezed around or inside a catheter. The catheter is then inserted and guided to the aortic valve opening in your heart where it is implanted over your existing valve. Once the new valve is implanted, the catheter is removed. The valve starts working immediately after the catheter is removed.