Tag Archives: transcatheter aortic valve replacement

The Most Experienced TAVR Facility in the Midlands

Reaching a significant milestone in comprehensive cardiovascular care for the people of our community, Lexington Medical Center has become the most experienced hospital in the Midlands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. The procedure allows doctors to replace the heart’s aortic valve with a catheter instead of open heart surgery.

Lexington Medical Center is celebrating the one-year anniversary of beginning its TAVR program. So far, the hospital has performed more than 60 TAVR procedures, more than any other hospital in the Midlands. TAVR is considered the greatest advance 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.

Lexington Medical Center's TAVR Team. L to R: Jeffrey Travis, MD; Robert Malanuk, MD, FACC; Kristen Davis, MSN, RN, CCRN; Robert Leonardi, MD, FACC; Dee Prastein, MD

Lexington Medical Center’s TAVR Team. L to R: Jeffrey Travis, MD; Robert Malanuk, MD, FACC; Kristen Davis, MSN, RN, CCRN; Robert Leonardi, MD, FACC; Dee Prastein, MD

“We feel so lucky to be able to help these people, many of whom are debilitated by heart failure and did not have any good options in the past,” said Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology at Lexington Medical Center, who works with a team of clinicians on the hospital’s TAVR team.

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.


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.

Lexington Medical Center performed the first fully percutaneous TAVR procedure in South Carolina. With this minimally invasive technique, doctors deployed the new aortic valve through just a small puncture in the femoral artery in the leg. The hospital also performed the first TAVR procedure in South Carolina where the patient was awake, and it remains the only South Carolina hospital routinely doing the procedures fully percutaneously, without putting patients to sleep, and without the need for a transesophageal echocardiogram. This “minimalist” approach has been shown to make recovery from valve replacement easier.

Lexington Medical Center hosted a reception on the hospital campus in May with patients who underwent TAVR, clinicians and hospital employees.


To learn more about cardiovascular care at Lexington Medical Center, visit LexMed.com/heart

Back on the Farm After TAVR

For Joe Fields, life doesn’t get much better than when you’re enjoying the great outdoors – like working on his Midlands cattle farm or fishing on Lake Murray.
But a problem with his heart made that nearly impossible.

“With my symptoms, I could hardly do anything except sit down.”

The 72-year-old outdoorsman from Saluda had aortic stenosis. That’s a narrowing of the aortic valve, which is the valve that allows oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body. Patients with aortic stenosis have a valve that doesn’t open properly.

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Joe’s aortic stenosis was so severe that it left him with shortness of breath and chest pain. Simply climbing onto his tractor made him breathless. Betty, his wife of 53 years, says he even had trouble walking to the mailbox.

And it was worse at night.

“Lying in bed, I’d have to concentrate on breathing hard to get enough air through to keep me going,” he said.

Aortic stenosis can be a serious problem. 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. In fact, the life expectancy for people with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis is less than two years.

IMG_9991At Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, Joe learned about transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR. This state-of-the-art cardiovascular technology allows doctors to replace the aortic valve with a catheter instead of performing open heart surgery. Lexington Medical Center began performing TAVR last spring.

Currently, TAVR is only 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.

Joe, who underwent coronary artery bypass surgery twenty years ago and had stents placed in blocked arteries awhile back, met with a multi-disciplinary team of physicians at Lexington Medical Center who perform TAVR, including cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at Lexington Cardiology and Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery. He underwent TAVR at the hospital in October 2014.

Joe spent three days at Lexington Medical Center for the procedure. Immediately after TAVR was complete, he noticed that he could breathe better.

“The next morning when they came in to check my breathing, they said, ‘Man, you’re moving some air today!”

Betty, who says she’s incredibly thankful that Lexington Medical Center now offers a comprehensive cardiovascular program, has noticed a difference in Joe, too. Before TAVR, she said her husband had trouble working on the farm at all. In fact, he had to hand off much of the work with the cattle to his son. Now, Joe is in the pasture from early morning until late afternoon with no chest pain, shortness of breath or fatigue.

“It’s a whole different life for me,” Joe said. “I can get out and do things again. TAVR is one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement

“Transcatheter aortic valve replacement is the most significant advancement in cardiology since coronary angioplasty.”

That’s what Lexington Medical Center cardiologist Dr. Robert Leonardi says about “TAVR,” a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to replace the heart’s aortic valve without open heart surgery.

In this video from WLTX, he explains TAVR.

Dr. Leonardi is one of the most experienced TAVR cardiologists in the Southeast and one of only a few fellowship-trained in transcatheter (non-surgical) valve procedures. A Greenville native, Dr. Leonardi earned his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He then completed an internal medicine residency at Duke University in Durham, N.C. and achieved board certification in this specialty. Dr. Leonardi finished his education with a cardiology fellowship at MUSC and fellowships in interventional cardiology and structural interventional cardiology at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also board certified in interventional cardiology and cardiovascular medicine.

By letting go of artificial boundaries between heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists, Lexington Medical Center is pleased to be using a collaborative, team-based approach to help patients with heart valve disease in our community. The team is made up of physicians from Lexington Cardiology and Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery. The hospital is proud to have performed the first fully percutaneous (no surgical incision) and first “awake” (without general anesthesia) TAVR procedures in South Carolina.

Dr. Leonardi is one of the 11 board-certified cardiologists at Lexington Cardiology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, dedicated to delivering the highest quality care in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.