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New Hope with CoreValve

First CoreValve patient Agnes Pike receives innovative aortic stenosis treatment at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, adding years to her life

A minimally invasive treatment called CoreValve® has revolutionized care for patients with failing aortic valves in Kansas City.

Agnes pike suffered from severe aortic stenosis – a condition in which the heart valve narrows and stiffens. She couldn't get out of bed without assistance. Her life expectancy was 6 months.

Because of her age and other complications, Pike wasn't a candidate for open-heart surgery. Her cardiologist at the time, Ashwani Mehta, MD, recommended she participate in a clinical trial for an innovative, minimally invasive treatment called CoreValve. He told her they could talk about the novel procedure, or they could talk about hospice care.

"How could I refuse?" Pike said with a smile during a routine follow-up at The University of Kansas Health System. "I couldn't have survived open-heart surgery."

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The first of its kind

On Feb. 15, 2011, Pike underwent the area's first CoreValve procedure. Interventional cardiologist Peter Tadros, MD, and cardiothoracic surgeon Trip Zorn, MD, used a catheter to guide the prosthetic valve to her heart. The device expanded and replaced the deteriorating aortic valve.

Pike spoke proudly of her daily walks through her independent-living facility in Lenexa. She was able to spend time with her 13 great-grandchildren – with 2 more on the way.

After meeting with Pike at her follow-up appointment, Tadros said Pike's health is a testament to the CoreValve procedure, known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.

"It really is life-altering," Dr. Tadros said. "When it's successful, which it is 90% of the time, it resets the patient's life expectancy to the rest of the population their age."

For Pike, that meant enjoying 5 more quality years with her family before she passed in June of 2016.

Changing the future of heart care

Aortic stenosis is a lethal disease. Only half of those diagnosed with the condition are expected to be living within 2 years of their diagnosis. Quality of life is extremely poor in the final months.

Open-heart surgery is the standard treatment for aortic stenosis, but for many older patients like Pike, the risk is too high.

The University of Kansas Health System was 1 of 45 sites in the United States participating in a national CoreValve study. Results showed more patients were alive a 1 year if they received the device compared to patients who had traditional open-heart surgery.

"CoreValve is truly a transformational procedure," Dr. Tadros explained. "This has really changed how we approach aortic stenosis disease."