Sister Theresa felt exhausted and out of breath as she walked the halls of the Queen of Peace Monastery in Squamish, BC. A diseased aortic valve in her 83-year-old heart meant it was pumping only a fraction of the blood that her body needed to function properly.
“When they told me I had to have an open-heart (surgery), I said, ‘Never,’” Sister Theresa told The Province newspaper. “I’m 83 and I’ve lived a really full life and loved God with all my heart, so hey, I’m ready to go.”
When a patient’s aortic valve fails, blood can’t efficiently leave the heart and reach the rest of the body and organs. Patients develop chest pain, shortness of breath, and fainting and half will die within one year if the valve is not replaced. For these patients, treatment previously meant open heart surgery.
A high-tech solution
Thanks to two renowned interventional and structural cardiologists, British Columbia has become a global leader in heart valve innovation.
Dr. David Wood and Dr. John Webb, in collaboration with the teams at the Centre for Heart Valve Innovation (CHVI) in Vancouver and the BC Centre for Improved Cardiovascular Health, pioneered a revolutionary alternative to open heart surgery called the Vancouver Clinical Pathway for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
Dr. Wood and Dr. Webb make a small incision in the leg, insert a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) with a new aortic valve through the femoral artery, and replace the existing diseased valve in approximately 30 minutes with the patient awake and talking. Patients are walking the same day and usually go home within 24 hrs.
Currently, TAVR is only available for select intermediate and high-risk patients. Dr. Wood and his team hope to make the Vancouver approach available to most patients.
Dr. Wood and his team proudly shared their unprecedented results with thousands of their peers from across the world on October 31st, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. The team demonstrated that the Vancouver Clinical Pathway improved patient outcomes and dramatically simplified aortic valve replacement in 411 patients at 13 North American sites.
Vancouver Clinical Pathway Results:
80% of patients went home the same day
92% of patients went home by the next day
5.5% re-admission rate
Support Canadian-led heart valve innovation
The Vancouver Clinical Pathway proved to be a successful and safe way to care for high-risk patients sparking new directions to take this innovative heart valve replacement procedure.
The team at CHVI, in collaboration with Sandra Lauck, PhD, are in the process of sharing their technique with other centres in North America and Europe as part of our their global “Benchmark” program. They hope the Vancouver Clinical Pathway will eventually become the global standard of care for most patients with aortic valve disease.
Invest in a solution
VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is proud to continue to support Dr. Wood’s passion for improving outcomes for patients and we hope you will join us. The forward-thinking approach of the structural heart team is blazing a new path for heart valve interventions that will minimize pain for patients, dramatically decrease recovery times and create efficiencies in the health care system so we can better manage the growing need for cardiovascular care in BC. With hundreds of British Columbians expected to face a failing valve every year, there is no better time to invest in a solution.
“Our research is about finding innovative solutions to give heart valve patients the best possible care. We hope to change global practice.” – Dr. David Wood