PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Elderly patients who aren't healthy enough for open-heart surgery are getting a new lease on life thanks to a cutting edge treatment. Patients who suffer from Aortic stenosis, a condition which is caused by a thickening of the aortic valve and can block blood flow, may be a good candidate for a new less invasive procedure.
Beverly Glines loves to go for walks with her daughter Jaci. But earlier this year it was a much different story for this 81-year old grandmother. She was suffering from frequent fainting spells and was often tired. Then she got the bad news at her doctor's office.
'I was surprised when the doctor said it was so serious he said the aortic valve was full of calcium,' said Glines.
Glines had aoretic stenosis, a potentially deadly conditions that is common among elderly adults. Calcium building narrows the opeing of the aortic valve, so the blood can't flow normally.
Traditionallly, the valve is repaired through open heart surgery. But Glines, who had open heart surgery more than ten years ago wasn't healthy enough to be a candidate. But she was able to undergo a new procedure which is now available at Maine Medical Center called, transcatheter aortiv valve replacement or TAVR.
A team of doctors use a catheter, slightly larger than the width of a pencil is inserted into a patient's femoral artery and into the patient's heart. Doctors say the procedure takes about two hours and the recovery is cut in half compared to open heart surgery.
As many as 1.5 million people in the US suffer from aortic stenosis, without valve replacement it's estimated half of the patients will not survive more than two years after their symptoms begin.
Studies have shown that the new procedure restores quality of life and extends survival.
As for Glines, the fainting spells have stopped, she's able to exercise more. At her age there's no time to waste on not feeling well.
If you would like more information on TAVR you can go to http://www.mmc.org/tavr