Jay Livingston Receives the 2,000th TAVR Procedure

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Parkwest Medical Center Celebrates Heart Care Milestone

As a retired teacher and avid tennis player, Jay Livingston was in tune with his health, so he noticed early on when he began experiencing shortness of breath more frequently, despite no changes to his regular routine. He also was having dizzy spells and feeling less energetic, sometimes while walking.  

Jay Livingston, recipient of 2000th TAVR procedure, on stationary bicycle smiling.
Jay Livingston exercises on a bicycle at cardiac rehab, following his TAVR procedure at Parkwest.

“When I started detecting something was ‘off,’ I went to my cardiologist,” said Livingston. “We monitored the situation for a while then discussed TAVR as a treatment option.” Livingston ultimately received Covenant Health’s 2000th TAVR procedure at Parkwest Medical Center.

What is TAVR?

TAVR stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. It is a treatment option for patients with aortic stenosis, or a narrowing of the aortic heart valve. The narrowed valve blocks blood flow to the rest of the body, causing chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath, among other symptoms. According to the American Heart Association, aortic stenosis one of the most common and serious valve disease problems,

For patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery, TAVR can be lifesaving. In addition, the minimally invasive procedure results in less scarring, less blood loss and less pain.  

TAVR is also revolutionary in recovery. Because it’s minimally invasive, TAVR doesn’t require a heart-lung machine, allowing patients to recover faster. Patients can also begin cardiac rehabilitation sooner, which helps maximize cardiac function after surgery or other significant heart event.

2000th TAVR Procedure – the 12-Year Growth of TAVR at Parkwest

Parkwest Medical Center was the first in the region to offer the TAVR procedure in 2012. While considered novel technology at the time, it has continued to grow and evolve as an advanced treatment option.

“Mr. Livingston was the 2,000th TAVR case done at Parkwest, and he represents how far the procedure has come,” said Ayaz Rahman, MD, interventional cardiologist. “If this was 2012, he wouldn’t have been approved to receive the surgery.”

Dr. Rahman smiling with labcoat and tie on.
Ayaz Rahman, MD

Dr. Rahman explains that in the case of Livingston, his TAVR procedure was performed before any significant damage to the heart could occur, making him a lower-risk case. When TAVR first began, only high-risk patients who were not candidates for open-heart surgery could undergo TAVR because there was a lack of data for low- and medium-risk patients.

“Now there is a growth of data that has shown the benefit for low- and medium-risk patients, and TAVR can be approved at all risk levels,” Dr. Rahman said. “The technology and quality of prostheses are also much more improved. Mr. Livingston got the latest valve prosthesis, which is fixed and treated to offer more longevity than previous versions. We also have new devices that we can insert in the wrist during surgery that help filter the carotid arteries to prevent embolization, which can cause a stroke.”

The introduction of TAVR at Parkwest was also instrumental in growing the medical center’s heart valve program and facilitated the creation of more “hybrid” operating rooms at the hospital. These rooms combine a traditional operating room with a cardiac catheterization lab and are used during less-invasive treatments, including TAVR.

Who is Eligible for TAVR?

TAVR is designed for patients with aortic stenosis or other structural heart diseases. It is a life-saving option for patients who cannot tolerate traditional open-heart surgery. To determine whether TAVR is a good treatment option, potential candidates will undergo a series of tests and scans including echocardiograms, heart ultrasounds, valve evaluations, heart catheterizations and gated CT scans (scans which take place during a specific part of the cardiac cycle). These tests help establish the condition of the valves and look for anatomic risk factors.

The TAVR Experience

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Livingston about receiving the 2000th TAVR procedure. “The pre-testing was great, and I couldn’t have asked for a better surgery experience. Dr. Rahman and his nurses were so great that I joked about wanting to stay another night in the hospital.”

Livingston is now completing cardiac rehabilitation to continue his recovery. “The girls at cardiac rehab are terrific,” he said. “I look forward to going each time.” He is also heading back to the tennis courts, grateful for the great care he received at Parkwest.

“I feel lucky to be back to what I do,” he said. Dr. Rahman says TAVR has helped improve Livingston’s quality of life and helped him feel better.

“Covenant Health offers some of the newest technology and therapy treatments,” Dr. Rahman said. “Our priority is delivering high-quality care so patients can stay in East Tennessee and not have to travel elsewhere.”

He encourages people to keep up with their health and visit their doctor if they suspect something is wrong, as waiting too long can cause irreparable damage.

To learn more about the TAVR program, visit CovenantHealth.com/our-services/tavr/. For help finding a personal physician or a heart specialist, visit CovenantHealth.com/find-a-doctor/.

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Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Covenant Health is a community-owned, healthcare enterprise committed to providing the right care at the right time and place. Covenant Health is the area’s largest employer and has more than 11,000 compassionate caregivers, expert clinicians, and dedicated employees and volunteers.

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