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Matters of the heart: Celebrating a new breakthrough in cardiology

Valory Craske was getting short of breath more and more often. She became so fatigued she found it hard to even leave her home. The once-active 80-year-old was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. Her aortic valve – the main valve leading from the left side of the heart to the body – had stiffened and narrowed, making it difficult for her heart to pump blood through the valve and out into her body.

Severe aortic stenosis can ultimately be fatal if left untreated. And the only effective treatment has been to replace the valve by performing conventional open heart surgery.

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation or TAVI requires only a small incision in the leg through which a catheter is inserted. The valve is threaded through this catheter and placed in the heart. This new procedure takes one or two hours and, unlike open heart surgery, there is no need to open the chest.

Valory was the first patient to undergo TAVI at VGH. The procedure was a success and she went home only two days after the new valve was implanted. Today, Valory is no longer short of breath. Her energy returned almost immediately and she has the experts at VGH to thank.