TAVR: Less Invasive, Faster Recovery Than Open-Heart Surgery


You’ve likely heard of open-heart surgery, but did you know there’s an alternative? Dr. Jake Ichino, an interventional cardiologist with Renown, joins us to talk about a life-saving procedure known as TAVR.

There’s a less-invasive alternative to open-heart surgery — transcatheter aortic valve replacement, known as TAVR — offered at less than 10 percent of hospitals nationwide. We sat down with Renown Interventional Cardiologist Jake Ichino, M.D., to learn more. 

Treating Heart Disease With TAVR

What condition does this procedure treat?

Both open-heart surgery and the less invasive TAVR procedure help patients with aortic stenosis — or the narrowing of the aortic valve. Aortic stenosis is a progressive and life-threatening disease that severely limits the daily activities of 260,000 Americans. Without valve replacement, studies have shown as many as 50 percent of patients with this condition won’t survive more than two years.

It’s important to note the symptoms of aortic stenosis can be difficult to spot since people often think they align with the normal signs of aging. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath and gasping — even at rest — chest pain or tightness, fainting, extreme fatigue, lightheaded or dizziness, difficulty exercising and rapid or irregular heartbeat.

How is the TAVR procedure done? Walk us through it.

TAVR is a less-invasive option for patients who are considered high-risk or inoperable for open-heart surgery. With TAVR, we place the new valve in the heart using a catheter, going through an incision in the leg. The valve is placed while the heart continues to beat and doesn’t require stopping the patient’s heart or hooking them up to a heart-lung machine, like open-heart surgery. Both surgery and recovery times are usually shorter. The average time to perform TAVR is one-to-two hours, versus four hours for open-heart surgery. Patients can be released from the hospital in just two days, compared to up to 10-days for open-heart surgery.

What does bringing TAVR to Reno mean for our community?

It’s another important step Renown has taken to continue improving heart health for our region. Offering this procedure means more patients can receive this innovative new procedure close to home — without traveling to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City or Sacramento. It is very welcome news for those suffering from severe aortic stenosis and are considered high risk or inoperable.

What have patients said about the procedure?

This procedure really does change a patient’s life — and quality of life. One of our first patients said she began feeling immediate relief of her symptoms and that having the procedure has given her “a new lease on life” after being told she had just one year to live. Another patient, an avid walker, discovered her condition when she began having trouble breathing. Since having the procedure, she is once again hiking five miles each day!

To learn more about transcatheter aortic valve replacement, please visit Renown.org