Q & A with Maen Nusair, M.D., Interventional Cardiologist and Medical Director of the Structural Heart Program
Making headlines in April was news that Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger had aortic stenosis and underwent a TAVR procedure to repair his heart. Our interventional cardiologist explains what TAVR is and how it helps patients get back to normal faster than open-heart surgery.
What is aortic stenosis?
Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the valve on the left side of the heart, compromising its ability to eject blood effectively. Over time, this burdens the heart muscle and can increase the thickness of the heart and possibly lead to heart failure. Patients like Mick Jagger who have aortic stenosis may have a silent phase where they don’t have symptoms. When the disease becomes more symptomatic, patients may have fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain. They notice that they can’t do the things they used to do. Aortic stenosis is the fastest growing heart disease in the nation.
Are there any early signs of aortic stenosis?
A heart murmur on an exam is one of the earliest signs; that prompts further workup.
What is TAVR and how does it help?
TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. The physician gains access into a blood vessel – either in the groin, arm or carotid artery – leading to the heart. A valve mounted on a balloon is advanced and positioned in the proper place under echocardiogram guidance. After we position it in place, we inflate the balloon which pushes over the diseased valve, allowing the new valve to work immediately.
Where is TAVR performed?
We have a new hybrid suite with the latest imaging equipment where expert physicians perform procedures. The work space combines the features of a cath (catheterization) lab and a sterile operating room. Because of this, we’re able to perform minimally invasive treatments and surgical procedures in the same space.
And whenever you’re doing minimally invasive procedures, having state-of-the-art imaging is key to allowing clear visualization without opening the body. Having experienced imaging professionals and the ability to combine all the modalities into one realm increases the precision.
What is the difference between TAVR and open-heart surgery?
TAVR is a minimally invasive repair, and recovery is much quicker than open heart surgery. Most patients are up on their feet a few hours after surgery. They spend up to two days in the hospital instead of a week and are back to their normal routine in a week versus several weeks to months.
How does NCH care for its heart patients?
We have a heart team made up of multiple disciplines – physicians, specialists, nurses, coordinators – and we review each patient’s case to make a decision on the best approach to care. We have a series of diagnostic and imaging tests. When it comes to complex heart diseases, our structural heart team combines heart specialists and cardiac surgery specialists to make recommendations while emphasizing patient-centered care.
How is care coordinated?
Valve Clinic Heart Program Coordinator Dana Trawczynski coordinates with patients and their families, working with them step-by-step through the entire process. She gives patients her direct number so she’s always available to answer questions. She offers personalized care and reduces the amount of visits by scheduling multiple tests on the same day. It’s great that patients can have this care right in their own neighborhood. That’s where ‘community’ in the name Northwest Community Healthcare really resonates.
Why should patients make an appointment at NCH?
NCH is a leader in cardiovascular care. We have been named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care and Stroke Care and we’re ranked by Healthgrades™ in the top 5 percent of hospitals for overall clinical excellence. With our new hybrid suite, we have the ability to bring professionals across different disciplines into one space. They’re intimately involved in intricate surgical procedures to give patients the absolute best outcome.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nusair, call 847-618-7658. Learn more about the hybrid cardiac cath lab at www.nch.org/valve.