Volly's TAVR StoryMar 1, 2021
Ninety-four-year-old Volly Jones of Glendale always had a hot air balloon ride on her bucket list. After heart valve surgery at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus, she’s been ticking that and other items off her list.
The energetic retiree took full advantage of the many activities Arizona has to offer after moving here from California. But that began to change a few years ago at age 91 when her doctor diagnosed aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve that obstructs blood flow to the heart and the rest of the body.
Left untreated, Volly would need oxygen and have to slow down her active life. A minimally invasive procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, was recommended as an option. Volly asked her daughter-in-law Lisa Jones, an emergency room nurse at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus, and daughter Kim Jones, a nurse in Hawaii, what they thought. Both agreed TAVR was right thing to do.
“She’s always been active. Over time she began to lose some of her energy. She asked what I thought, we talked about it and decided the TAVR was thing to do,” said Jones. “Dr. Nishant Gupta and Dr. Merick Kirshner performed the procedure and she’s been fine ever since then.”
Fine enough to take that hot air balloon ride, go boating and fishing, resume exercising and visit great-grandkids in Hawaii.
“She said a hot air balloon ride was always on her bucket list, so after the procedure, that’s what she did. She thoroughly enjoyed it,” laughed Jones. “And she continues to be very active, doing gym workouts before the pandemic hit. She wanted to see her great-grandkids in Hawaii so that’s where she went for the holidays.”
The TAVR procedure allows for improved heart function that helps many patients resume their pre-aortic stenosis activity levels. Volly now exercises at home as she follows COVID-19 precautions, so her trainer comes to the house twice a week for stability training.
TAVR is an alternative to open-heart surgery for the estimated 1.5 million Americans with aortic stenosis. For appropriate patients, a physician can implant a replacement valve through a small incision near the femoral artery in the groin.
The incidence of aortic valve stenosis increases with age, according to the FDA. As the aortic valve opening narrows, the heart must work harder to pump blood to the body. Occurring in about 3% of Americans over age 75, severe aortic valve stenosis can cause fainting, chest pain, heart failure, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), cardiac arrest or death.
Doctors at Abrazo remind everyone that chest pain or shortness of breath should not be ignored, even during the pandemic. Delays in care can leave patients at greater risk for complications or secondary health issues.