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A Milestone for Patients, Heart Care

February 16, 2016

Kansas City, Kan. — Five years ago today, Agnes Pike blazed her name into the record books at The University of Kansas Hospital.

At age 82, she was the first patient in the area to undergo a CoreValve procedure, a revolutionary approach for treating failing aortic valves.

Interventional cardiologist Peter Tadros, MD, and cardiothoracic surgeon Trip Zorn, MD, used a catheter to guide a prosthetic device to her heart. The device expanded and replaced the deteriorating aortic valve.

The minimally invasive procedure was part of a national clinical study involving 45 facilities. With Susie Page, RN, as its research coordinator here, the trial has been groundbreaking not only because it offers a lifesaving option for certain patients with aortic stenosis, or AS. It also opened the door to newer generations of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures.

In fact, since that day in 2011, the hospital has performed more than 550 TAVR procedures on patients who have aortic stenosis. Like Pike, they weren't good candidates for open-heart surgery because of their age or other complications.

CoreValve was the best option. "It really is life-altering," said Tadros. "When it's successful, which is more than 95 percent of the time, it resets the patient's life expectancy to the rest of the population age. 

"CoreValve has changed how we approach AS disease," he added. "Ongoing studies, some right here at the hospital, are assessing use of the procedure for intermediate and low-risk patients."

The study continues to show more patients are alive one year after receiving the device than those who undergo open-heart surgery. It also shows the prosthetic functions better than surgical valve replacement, and the procedure is more cost-effective.

For Pike, now 87 and still in good health, the five-year anniversary of her pioneering procedure also means she can exit the national study. Nurses will greet her with balloons and cake during her final checkup this week. It's a fitting ceremony for February, which happens to be National Heart Month.

Congratulations, Agnes!

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