HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Heart valve disease, such as aortic stenosis, can be extremely serious and life-threatening. Aortic stenosis is a particularly common form of valve disease in the elderly population that can fortunately be screened for fairly easily, using an echocardiogram. Although the development of aortic stenosis may initially be slow and gradual, once the degree of stenosis becomes severe and patients develop signs of congestive heart failure, the disease often progresses relatively quickly and ultimately becomes fatal.
Over the last few years, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) has emerged as a safe, reliable and effective treatment alternative for patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, who are felt to be relatively high risk for conventional surgery. The technology used for TAVR procedures is rapidly progressing, with two different commercially available systems and a second generation TAVR device already approved for use in the U.S. It is likely that, within a few years, TAVR and other catheter-based procedures will be offered to a growing number of patients with aortic stenosis and other forms of valvular heart disease.
Development of new technologies for the treatment of heart valve disease, such as the TAVR procedure, requires collaboration between interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac imaging specialists and other related medical providers. Cone Health Network launched their multidisciplinary Structural Heart Valve Program in the summer of 2013, performed their first TAVR procedure in March 2014, and have since then performed 25 successful procedures. Patients typically see nearly immediate benefits and enjoy a remarkably quick recovery, especially considering the typical condition of TAVR patients before their procedure.
Dr. Clarence Owen is a cardiothoracic surgeon and the co-director of the Structural Heart Valve Program at the Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center. Dr. Owen is a 1989 graduate of Duke University School of Medicine, completing his residency in general surgery at Duke University Medical Center. He also completed a fellowship in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Duke University Medical Center.