Severe aortic valve stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that does not allow normal blood flow. This can lead to chest pain or chest tightness, heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath, especially with exertion.  No drug therapy exists for treating severe aortic stenosis but with aortic valve replacement many people go on to lead normal, healthy lives.


James Carleton (middle left) of Redding and James Cook (middle right) of Yuba City stand with Janine Carlson, TAVR program nurse, and Jeffrey Southard, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and TAVR program co-leader. Carleton and Cook were Sacramento's first TAVR patients.James Carleton (middle left) and James Cook (middle right) with Janine Carlson, TAVR program nurse, and Jeffrey Southard, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine and TAVR program co-leader.

Physicians have had great success in treating severe aortic valve stenosis by surgically replacing the faulty valve with a mechanical one or a valve made from animal tissue.  Today, there are multiple treatment options for aortic stenosis.

For people that have been diagnosed with servere aortic stenosis and are intermediate risk or greater for open heart surgery, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) may be an option.  TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure that replaces the valve without removing the old, damaged valve.  Instead the new valve is introduced through a catheter and wedged insided the old aortic valve using the old damaged leaflets to secure the new valve.  The TAVR procedure is performed using different approaches based on the best and safest way to place the new valve.

Because the replacement valve is placed using minimally invasive techniques, patients usually experience a much more rapid recovery than they would from a traditional, open-heart valve replacement.

At this time the TAVR procedure is reserved for those people for whom open heart surgery would pose at least an intermediate risk for adverse outcomes.  TAVR can be an effective option to improve quality of life in patients who otherwise would have limited choices for treatment of their aortic stenosis.

To learn more about severe aortic stenosis and the Heart Valve Clinic at UC Davis please email Janine Carlson, RN, MSN or Natasha Vasilopoulos, RN, MSN or call 916-734-6500.

Meet the TAVR team