Tag Archives: aortic valve

Striking Back Against Heart Disease

On Friday nights, you can bet on finding Martha Gregg at the Gamecock Lanes bowling alley in Sumter.

She bowls there every week with her son and daughter and participates in bowling tournaments. Her personal best is a 195.

She’s back in the game after a serious setback in 2014.

During that time, the 68-year-old noticed she was getting very tired.

Martha Gregg bowling in Sumter

“I would get so tired when walking. I couldn’t stand up in church, either. I couldn’t bake. I couldn’t lift my clothes. I was so tired and out of breath.”

It was so bad that she fell asleep at work one night.

The fatigue affected her bowling, too.

“I was too tired to bowl,” she said. “I’d bowl one game and couldn’t finish it. My son would say, ‘Mom, just sit down.’”

Tests at Lexington Medical Center revealed something was wrong with Martha’s aortic valve, the heart valve that allows oxygenated blood back into the body.

Doctors referred her to Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia for further testing.

“They said the valve was not pumping enough blood through my body to keep me going full force. The valve was slowing me down,” she said. “They said it needed to be replaced. That scared me.”

But that June, instead of traditional, open heart surgery, Martha underwent transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR, at Lexington Medical Center. This state-of-the-art cardiovascular technology allows doctors to replace the aortic valve without open heart surgery.

TAVR is considered the most significant advancement in cardiology since coronary angioplasty.

Currently, TAVR is for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are high-risk candidates for open heart surgery because of their age, history of heart disease or other health issues.

In TAVR, a catheter helps to deploy a new aortic valve over the patient’s diseased aortic valve without open heart surgery.

Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a narrowed aortic valve that does not allow blood to flow efficiently. As the heart works harder to pump enough blood through the smaller opening in the valve, the heart eventually becomes weak. Over time, it can lead to life-threatening heart problems.

To replace the diseased aortic valve with TAVR, the new aortic valve is compressed into a catheter. Doctors thread the catheter through the body to the inside of the diseased aortic valve. Then, they deploy the new valve inside the diseased aortic valve, which becomes the anchor for the new valve. The new valve is functional immediately and normal blood flow is restored.

With this minimally invasive technique, doctors deployed the new aortic valve through just a small puncture in the femoral artery in the leg.

“After a few days in the hospital, I noticed that I could walk more,” Martha said. “I thought, ‘I don’t feel tired.’ I couldn’t do that before without stopping and resting.”

Two months later, she was back at the bowling alley impressing the competition at tournaments again.

And she’s thankful to the Lexington Medical Center team that fixed her up.

“I feel like I can run a marathon now. It’s really good. I can kick my heels up, too.”

LMC to Offer Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

This year, Lexington Medical Heart Center will begin offering transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. This state-of-the-art cardiovascular technology allows doctors to replace the aortic valve without open heart surgery.

Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology

Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology

“TAVR is the single most important advance in interventional cardiology since coronary angioplasty,” said Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

He will perform TAVR procedures as part of a highly skilled cardiac care team that includes Dr. Robert Malanuk of Lexington Cardiology and Dr. Jeffrey Travis of Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, as well as nurses, technicians and a cardiovascular anesthesiologist.

Currently, TAVR is for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for open heart surgery because of their age, history of heart disease, or other health issues.

Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a narrowed aortic valve that does not allow blood to flow efficiently. As the heart works harder to pump enough blood through the smaller opening in the valve, the heart eventually becomes weak. Over time, that can lead to life-threatening heart problems.


TAVR offers a less invasive option than open heart surgery. To replace the diseased aortic valve, the new aortic valve is compressed into a tube-like device called a delivery catheter that’s slightly wider than a pencil. Doctors insert the delivery catheter and the new aortic valve into an artery and thread the catheter through the body to the inside of the diseased aortic valve. Then, doctors deploy the new valve from the delivery catheter inside the diseased aortic valve, which becomes the anchor for the new valve. The new valve is functional immediately and normal blood flow is restored.

Lexington Medical Heart Center will use the Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve. It’s made of bovine tissue with a stainless steel frame. The TAVR procedure takes less than two hours.

“The main benefit is that patients feel better and live longer,” Dr. Leonardi said.

Studies show that TAVR reduces the mortality rate in patients by 20% in the first year after the procedure.

“Patients often want to know if there’s something we can do to make them feel better,” he added. “TAVR allows that to happen.”

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For more information on Lexington Medical Center’s complete cardiac care program, visit LexMed.com.