TAVR, Innovation, and the Future of Healthcare | The Doctor Weighs In

The Doctor Weighs In
5 min readAug 7, 2019

By: Fahed Bitar, MD

Minimally-invasive procedures such as TAVR and a team-based approach to medicine are two types of innovation that provide patients with better overall care.

Angiogram of Healthy Heart (Photograph by SPL/Photo Researchers, Inc.)

The role that innovation plays in the future of health care and medicine continues to be a hot topic across the nation. An important example of a technology innovation available today is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). The procedure helps patients recover more quickly because it involves minimally invasive surgery instead of open-heart surgery.

Conversations about innovation in healthcare touch on a wide variety of topics, including access to health care, upskilled health workers, and overall cost. However, one thing is certain: when it comes to innovation, patients want access to lower-cost treatment options, including procedures, that offer better outcomes. TAVR does both of these things.

As physicians who are stewards of medicine, we owe it to our patients to bring new, innovative forms of care to the communities we serve. This includes:

  • looking at all of the ways that we can be more efficient when using technology
  • having an increased working knowledge of the latest innovations available for our patients, and
  • providing better overall value.

The evolution of aortic valve stenosis treatments

As people age, the valves of the heart can harden, thicken and calcify. These pathologic changes can reduce blood flow to the body. This is because the diseased aortic valves don’t open correctly.

This condition, known as aortic valve stenosis, is more prevalent in people 75 years or older. Although there can be other conditions that may cause this abnormality to happen in people in their 60s and possibly younger.

Damaged aortic valves are often replaced by surgeons through open-heart surgery. This requires a surgeon to cut into the chest in order to open the ribcage to operate on the heart. This surgery was initially hailed as a breakthrough because physicians finally had the ability to improve the quality of life of patients with aortic…

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