Jean Becker of Mt. Pleasant Township, Adams County, knew she might need an aortic valve replacement. Since her heart attack about a year ago, her interventional cardiologist, Gurpal Singh, MD, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, has been keeping an eye on her condition.
“We knew there was a problem with her aortic valve,” Dr. Singh said. “We were regularly watching the progression of the disease — doing echocardiograms and watching for symptoms.”
Then Jean started feeling poorly.
“I was getting short of breath, my legs were swelling, and I had a lot of pressure in my chest,” she explained. “When I got my last echocardiogram, Dr. Singh said, ‘Jean, now it is time.’”
Hemal Gada, MD, MBA, president of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute at UPMC Pinnacle and medical director of structural heart, came to the office in Hanover to see Mrs. Becker. The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute team has offices throughout southcentral Pennsylvania so that patients’ exams and testing can be done as close as possible to their homes.
“Dr. Singh did a work-up and a heart catheterization in Hanover,” Dr. Gada noted. “Chest discomfort is a serious symptom, so I knew we had to act rapidly.”
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Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Procedure
The question was whether Jean would need open heart surgery or could get the less invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure.
“My sister went through open heart surgery,” said Jean. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go through the same thing.”
“TAVR has become our standard of care if there are no other issues,” said Dr. Gada. “We felt Jean would be a good candidate for TAVR, and the procedure went as expected.”
Open heart surgery is a major procedure requiring a large incision in the chest, explained Dr. Gada. It generally requires four to seven days in the hospital. TAVR uses small incisions in the upper leg or groin. A plastic tube or catheter is guided through the patient’s arteries to the heart where the old valve is replaced with a new one. Most patients go home the next day, noted Dr. Gada.
Dr. Gada and the structural heart team at UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offer TAVR procedures at UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg.
“Dr. Singh said the doctors there were very good and that gave me peace of mind,” said Jean. “Going to Harrisburg was not bad. I was in and out so fast I hardly had time to think about it. They operated one day, and I came home the next.”
Jean also enjoyed the excellent care, and she felt better almost immediately.
“I felt a difference right away. I wasn’t so short of breath, and I had no pressure on my chest. I’m very thankful and so pleased with everything.”
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.