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Baystate Cardiologists perform the 100th TAVR procedure

October 28, 2015

The opening of the Davis Family Heart & Vascular Center in 2012 made it possible for Baystate Medical Center to start performing TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement). Procedure rooms in the ultra-modern center are designed to support such a “hybrid” clinical approach that involves an interventional cardiologist working side-by-side with a cardiac surgeon and a multidisciplinary care team.

Drs. Joseph Flack and Ashequl Islam performed Baystate's first TAVR on an 89-year-old patient who would not have been a candidate for traditional open heart surgery.

Now, October has seen the two doctors perform their 100th TAVR procedure at Baystate on Alexander Hindmarsh of West Springfield.

“It’s wonderful. I’m really thankful to Dr. Flack and Dr. Islam for adding another 10 years to my life. I had the best heart doctors in the world,” says the happy 87-year-old Hindmarsh from his hospital bed in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

During TAVR surgery, a failing aortic valve is replaced through a small incision in the patient’s leg and a catheter is placed into the heart itself, similar to angioplasty, without the need to crack open a patient’s chest.

While some patients with aortic valve disease can be treated with medications, these medications cannot reverse damage to the heart valve. An open aortic valve replacement has been the standard of care for symptomatic, severe aortic valve stenosis for decades, but it is not an option for a growing number of patients deemed too high a risk for open-heart surgery, typically because of aortic calcification, underlying lung disease, or frailty.

Essentially, TAVR allows surgeons to treat a very high risk group of patients who would otherwise not be candidates for surgery, making them "operable" by using a technique with less risk. TAVR has many benefits, including a quicker recovery and better outcomes compared to medical therapy alone.

When doctors first diagnosed Hindmarsh’s failing aortic valve during an echocardiogram, they considered the deficiency to be “moderate to severe.”

“But, a few months later they considered it severe,” says Hindmarsh, who was otherwise healthy and had been exercising three times a week until he began having difficulty catching his breath.

“My doctors told me about the procedure and that I would feel a lot better afterwards,” he added.

When told his story would be placed on the hospital website and on social media to promote the 100th TAVR, Hindmarsh said he wanted people to know something.

“Some family members suggested I go to Boston. I didn’t need to. It’s a WOW here and everyone should know what they have right here in Springfield,” says Hindmarsh.

 “And, another thing, I want to say how helpful Noel Harrington was,” he added about the hospital’s heart valve coordinator. She’s marvelous.”

Refer a patient: 413-794-CARE (2273)