Younger, Healthier Heart Patients May Bypass Open-Heart Surgery

Premier Health Now

Rolling Stones fans in North America are disappointed that the legendary band is postponing their upcoming tour due to Mick Jagger’s heart valve replacement surgery. The 75-year-old superstar is recovering from a minimally invasive procedure called TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), which made news recently as an option for younger, healthier patients.

People undergoing heart valve replacement today have new options with better outcomes and remarkable recovery times unthinkable just a few years ago. TAVR allows cardiologists to replace a faulty heart valve by inserting a new replacement through a patient’s groin and guiding it all the way to the heart. 

Though not a new procedure, TAVR was once prescribed only for patients who may have been too frail to withstand open-heart surgery. That approach appears to be changing as two recently released studies revealed that TAVR is a viable option, as well, for younger and healthier patients in need of new heart valves. It might even be a better choice, offering lower risks of strokes and death than open-heart surgery.

Premier Health Now spoke with cardiologist Ravi Gurujal, MDof Premier Cardiovascular Institute about TAVR and the impact these recent clinical trials may have on cardiology patients both now and in the future.

Better Results, Faster Recovery 

“The result of these studies have brought us to the point where low risk patients can be told with confidence they can have a TAVR procedure and get results that are at least as good as they would with open-heart surgery,” says Dr. Gurujal. “TAVR is considerably simpler. Instead of taking weeks or months, people can resume normal activity within days. Many patients can go home the next day, and the majority go home within three days after the procedure.”

Dr. Gurujal points out, however, that TAVR does not rule out the need for open-heart surgery for certain patients needing valve replacement. Those, for example, who also require a bypass or have other blood vessel issues would undergo valve replacement as part of an open-heart procedure. At the same time, the future of less invasive therapies looks promising.

“In medicine, you don't want to really project what the future is going to bring,” says Dr. Gurujal. “Still, I believe we could see an increase in less invasive treatment techniques as technology evolves in the years ahead.”