Valve replacement restores quality of life | Ascension

Valve replacement restores quality of life

For patients with shortness of breath and lower energy, TAVR, a minimally invasive surgical option may mean a quick recovery.

Irene, pictured here following her TAVR procedure, recently celebrated her 101st birthday.

After experiencing continued shortness of breath and a reduced energy level, Henry knew something wasn’t right. But the Ascension Wisconsin structural heart team helped determine that he was experiencing symptomatic aortic stenosis. It’s a condition in which the aortic valve doesn’t open and close properly. Henry’s heart specialists suggested he have a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and recommended the procedure for his care.

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure. A new valve is inserted into the narrowed aortic valve that isn’t working properly. The new valve takes over the regulation of blood flow. After the procedure, many patients see their quality of life improve.

Restoring your energy

Henry, who recently turned 83, says he has had significant improvement in his energy level and ability to walk following his TAVR procedure. “I can do more work now than I could last summer. I used to have to stop and take breaks, but now I can mow my lawn without stopping. I also try to walk one mile every day,” Henry said.

Similarly to Henry, Eleni, 73, was having a hard time breathing and was noticing worsening weakness with activity. Along with the shortness of breath and fatigue, she was also noticing swelling in her legs. After evaluation, the Ascension Wisconsin structural heart team noted that Eleni was experiencing the symptoms of a heart valve problem and would be a great candidate for the TAVR procedure.

“Following TAVR, her dizziness and lightheadedness completely resolved. Her fatigue and breathing greatly improved and she was able to do things she had not been able to do in a long time,” said Brad Stair, MD, Structural & Interventional Cardiology.

For Eleni, she says the TAVR procedure restored her energy. The Ascension Wisconsin structural heart team helped her from consultation through recovery. Cardiac rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process and is recommended for patients to help them gain strength and energy. “During my recovery process I went on the treadmill, rode a bike, and took walks. I’m back to living my normal life, I can walk my dog and go on my treadmill at home,” Eleni said.

Faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay

At 101 years old, Irene was noticing some changes in her health. Fatigue and shortness of breath were increasing. And doing small tasks around the house was difficult. “Her main goal was to be able to move around her home and do small things without severe fatigue and shortness of breath. She was evaluated by our structural heart team and deemed an excellent TAVR candidate,” said Brad Stair, MD, Structural & Interventional Cardiology.

One of the many benefits of the TAVR procedure is that the recovery is usually much faster than open heart surgery. Patients typically stay in the hospital for one to two days and can get back to normal activity sooner.

“I didn’t think I was going to go home that quick. I had my procedure on a Wednesday and was home by Friday,” Irene said, “I am recovering well, I’m not in any pain. I have a physical therapist coming to my house to help me with the recovery process.”

Similarly to other patients, Judy, 81, was noticing an increase in weakness during daily activity. She began to experience increasing and worsening shortness of breath along with new leg swelling. Another good candidate for TAVR, Judy said she was able to get back to doing the things she wanted to do without being limited by her breathing or lack of energy. She said the procedure also completely resolved the swelling in her legs.

“I recovered quickly. They mentioned how some patients stay for one to two days, but I was able to go home the next day without any problems,” Judy said, “I’ll be honest, I was nervous to begin with, but Dr. Stair and his team made everything go so smoothly. They were so kind and so thoughtful, I cannot tell you enough good things about my experience.”

At Ascension Wisconsin, our team of interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons start by listening. We deliver diagnostics, medical management and surgical treatments for heart valve disease. By understanding your health and concerns, we deliver structural heart and valve care that is right for you.

To learn more or request an appointment with our structural heart team, visit