Aortic stenosis is one of the most common and serious heart problems. It essentially means a valve isn't working like it should and requires surgery. It's a fix that many patients aren't qualified to get, until now.
For years Reverend Winfield Poe has been behind the pulpit. It seems over those years, time has taken a toll on his heart.
"The aortic valve was calcified where it wouldn't hardly open at all." Said Reverend Poe.
"As a result of that he was having problems with chest pain or angina and he had some heart failure, because the heart muscle just couldn't squeeze hard enough to cross that narrowed valve." Said Dr. J. Michael Bacharach, a cardiologist with the North Central Heart Institute.
Reverend Poe needed a new aortic valve, but given his age and condition, open surgery to replace it wasn't an option. Lucky for him the Avera Heart Hospital was able to offer him a state of the art procedure to replace his faulty aortic valve.
"It still is an invasive procedure but much less invasive than having to open the chest and doing the traditional aortic valve replacement which is sewn in place." Said Dr. Bacharach.
This new procedure is called a Trans-catheter Aortic Valve Replacement or TAVR for short.
Like any heart procedure there is still plenty of risk but the Reverend put his faith in Dr. Bacharach's experienced hands.
"I told them it was a win-win situation, if my heart stopped I went to heaven, and if it didn't I was going to go back and preach! So I was as relaxed when I went into surgery as I am now." Said Reverend Poe.
Instead of a scalpel, everything is done through a catheter with Dr. Bacharach using Reverend Poe's arteries like a highway to deliver the new valve to the heart.
"What you do is you initially do what's called a balloon valvuloplasty. So you take a balloon across the stenotic or narrowed valve and balloon it open and then you replace that with a valve that is sewn onto a metal cage that is expanded and that holds it in place. So basically you push the old valve out-of-the-way and put the new one in with a catheter-based technique." Said Dr. Bacharach.
With the artificial valve in place, the reverend sees and feels something that hasn't happened in a long time; his heart beating like normal.
"I watched that picture and you could see that valve open and shut." Said Reverend Poe.
Reverend Poe was the Avera Heart Hospital's first TAVR patient and also its first success story.
"He can breathe better, his chest pain went away, and overall it made it much easier for his heart to function." Said Dr. Bacharach.
The TAVR helps keep his heart pumping like it should and allows his ministry and 65 years of marriage to continue as well.
"Yes, they said this ought to last 15 years so that would make me 101, so that will be as long as I'll need!" Said Reverend Poe.
Reverend Poe's TAVR procedure was done on January 22nd which also happens to be his birthday. At his follow up visit, his new valve is still performing great and his health continues to improve. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.