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How less invasive procedure helps patients with Aortic Valve Disease

RICHMOND, Va. -- About 5 million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease that severely impacts their quality of life, according to the American Heart Association. While it remains a serious condition, technology is helping lower the treatment risks for patients.

Aortic Valve Disease is a condition you may have at birth, or may result from other causes in older patients. If left untreated, the consequences of the disease could lead to more serious heart problems or death.

"About half the patients will survive two years, and only 20 percent will survive five years," Interventional Cardiologist Michael Arcarese said.

Aortic Valve disease is a condition where the valve between the main pumping chamber of your heart and the main artery to your body doesn't work properly. The condition can disrupt blood flow to the body.

For years, open heart surgery was the only option for patients with serious conditions, but now there's a less invasive procedure for people who may be at high risk for surgery.

Transcathetar Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR uses a catheter -- usually inserted through the femoral artery in the leg -- to implant a new valve within the diseased valve.

While the procedure is usually performed on patients in their 70s and 80s, cardiologists are seeing promising results that could open the window for patients deemed low risk for surgery.

Arcarese, who practices medicine at Chippenham Medical Center, said he's been performing TAVR on patients for four years.

"It's pretty revolutionary technology," Dr. Arcarese said. "Initially it was approved just for patients who are inoperable or too high risk to have surgery, but as we've gone on through the years and different studies, we've shown that we are actually more effective in putting in these valves."

Arcarese said the procedure has reduced stroke rates and improved patient survival rates.

Symptoms of heart valve diseases include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, or an irregular heartbeat. It's important to be tested by a doctor if you have any of these symptoms. It's also important to note that the person suffering from the disease may not complain of symptoms or mistake their condition for old age.

Working For Your Health is a partnership with HCA Healthcare. Serving the greater Richmond area, Chippenham, Henrico Doctors’, Johnston-Willis, Parham Doctors’, and Retreat Doctors’ Hospital are part of HCA Virginia. Watch for Working For Your Health reports Tuesdays on CBS 6 News at 7 p.m.

Watch for Working For Your Health reports on CBS 6.

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