Tom Goldader is 86 years old. He lives in Sequim, Wash, and has three daughters, four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Two years ago Tom could get around, but he had noticed that he could not go as far during his daily walks without getting tired – a typical symptom of aortic valve stenosis. Other symptoms of aortic valve stenosis include: chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, feeling faint or feinting while exercising, and a rapid or fluttering heartbeat. Some symptoms are not noticeable right away. A doctor may first suspect aortic valve stenosis when he or she hears a heart murmur during a patient’s routine exam.
Tom was diagnosed with severe aortic valve stenosis in 2011. The only way to successfully treat Tom’s condition was to replace the faulty valve. Because of his age, the amount of plaque in his aorta, and his other medical conditions (type 2 diabetes and kidney problems), the cardiology team at the Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute (SHVI) determined Tom would probably not survive open heart surgery. Fortunately, as one of the medical facilities in the United States that is staffed and equipped to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), SHVI offered Tom an alternative.
Tom had his TAVR procedure at Swedish in October 2012. He stayed in the hospital for five “uneventful” days for his initial recovery. Tom is grateful that his wife was able to stay at Swedish’s Inn at Cherry Hill (www.swedish.org/theinn), so she was nearby the entire time. After his hospital stay, Tom spent about two weeks at a rehabilitation center, which is typical for elderly heart patients.
Tom is home now and back to his favorite pastime – walking around his neighborhood. He’s up to nearly a mile a day. His next goal is to walk a more strenuous route that includes some hills.
Tom previously received a carotid artery stent as part of clinical trial, so he had no reservations about going ahead with the newly approved TAVR procedure. His wife, who is now considering TAVR for an aortic valve replacement she needs, says the doctors at Swedish gave Tom a new life.