Cardiac procedure giving patients a new chance at life

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 11:20 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 11:21 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - “I was having dizzy spells, tiredness, you know just fatigued all the time,” Ida Keys, a cardiology patient, said.

It is these symptoms that Dr. Amir Hagihat, an Interventional Cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute of Northwest Florida, said are common when an aortic valve in the heart isn’t working properly.

“When I saw her for the first time, she couldn’t breathe well she was suffering from the symptoms of aortic stenosis,” Dr. Hagihat said. “In fact, untreated it not only leads to morbidity but also mortality.”

But, with a transcatheter aortic valve replacement, better known as TAVR, many at-risk lives can be saved here in Bay County.

“Putting in a new aortic valve in patients through the blood vessels in the groin area,” Dr. Hagihat said. “Instead of opening a chest and putting in a new valve, we’re going through easier access.”

The TAVR procedure is used in patients too high risk for traditional open-heart surgery. It means easier access and a fast procedure.

“We have a procedure now that is so much easier than going through open heart surgery,” Dr. Hagihat said. “It usually takes an hour.”

And a quick recovery.

“Recovery time on average they stay in the hospital two nights,” Dr. Hagihat said. “We call it TAVR Wednesday, and we get them out by Friday afternoon.”

Especially for patients like 70-year-old Ida Keys.

“The recovery was awesome,” said Keys. “It was just like a brand-new day for me. The surgery opened up a whole new thing for my body.”

Once patients leave these doors following an operation, Dr. Hagihat said he looks forward to not only their future but the institutes as well.

“When I see a patient come back with joy in their eyes, happy about the quality and quantity of life that they have received after undergoing this procedure it is just a wonderfully joyous moment for me,” Dr. Hagihat said. “I think it’s a moment to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. We could grow this program even larger.”

A program that improves patient health.

“I’m doing great,” Keys said. “No pains, no nothing. I feel wonderful up here like I got a new body.”

TAVR gives patients a new chance at life.

Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Heart Institute recently celebrated a huge milestone, the hospital’s cardiac team completed its 200th TAVR procedure. The first procedure was done in 2017.

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