19:19 PM

St. Vincent’s Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Procedure Saves Man’s Life

475x285 SVH TAVR 2021

Billings, MT - For David Cunningham, 82, each and every day is a blessing. And because of a referral from his primary care provider, Dr. Jeffery Johnson and the successful completion of the TAVR procedure at St. Vincent Healthcare, David can continue to live each day to its fullest.

“I love the smell of wood smoke in the air and I have grown to appreciate these small things more and more each day,” he said. “I know that without the TAVR procedure, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this. St. Vincent Healthcare saved my life.”

Cunningham was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis when he was referred by Dr. Johnson to Dr. Robert Terry, an Interventional Cardiologist. Aortic stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart, which can lessen the amount of blood flow circulating from the aorta and the rest of the body. This requires the heart to work harder and can eventually weaken it, causing other health issues -- in David’s case, difficulty breathing and fatigue. Because of this diagnosis and physical findings, David received the TAVR procedure performed by Dr. Robert Terry and Dr. Justin Kim, Cardiothoracic Surgeon.

The transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure involves placing a new tissue valve inside the damaged aortic valve through catheter-based technology, which typically shortens recovery time when compared to traditional open heart surgery. TAVR may not be the best treatment option for every patient depending on their anatomy, age, and medical history considerations.

“During the TAVR procedure, access is obtained to the femoral artery with a sheath. An aortic valve is placed through the sheath in the femoral artery, up to the heart,” mentioned Dr. Robert Terry. “The patient receives conscious sedation during the procedure, and it saves the patient from going through an open heart procedure. Originally, it was only approved for patients considered ‘high risk’ for open heart surgery or patients considered ‘inoperable.’ Since then, trials have shown reduced morbidity of TAVR, compared to open aortic valve replacement in appropriate patients. A team of cardiac surgeons and the cardiologist will work with you to help advise the best option in your situation.”

Following his procedure, David now feels excellent and is looking forward to continuing to hunt deer and elk, as this gives him a chance to embrace the great outdoors and reflect on all of life’s wonders.

“I have never seen a team like the one at St. Vincent Healthcare,” said Cunningham, who has a wealth of experience in the healthcare field. “The procedure and operation were amazing and it was world-class care. Where else could you find care like this locally? SCL Health is without a doubt one of the best healthcare operations out there.”

To learn more about the heart services offered at St. Vincent Healthcare, click here.

About SCL Health

SCL Health is a faith-based, nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to improving the health of the people and communities we serve. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1864, our health network provides comprehensive, coordinated care through eight hospitals, more than 180 physician clinics, home health, hospice, mental health, and safety-net services in Colorado and the Montana Wyoming region.