Health Library

The Health Library is a collection of health and wellness resources created for learning and accessibility. Select a topic below for related health information or search for a topic in the search bar for more information on other medical conditions.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Treatment Overview

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a procedure to replace the aortic heart valve. Your doctor will use a catheter to put in your new heart valve. You won't need open-heart surgery.

TAVR is often done through a cut (incision) in the groin. But sometimes a small cut is made in the chest. Your doctor will use a tube called a catheter and special tools that fit inside it. The doctor puts the catheter into a blood vessel and moves it into the heart.

An artificial valve fits inside the catheter. Your doctor will move the new valve into your damaged valve. It will expand and work in place of the old valve.

You may be asleep for the procedure, or you may get a sedative that will help you relax.

You may stay in the hospital for up to several days.

What To Expect

  • While you are in the hospital, your doctors and nurses will monitor you to check how the new valve is working.
  • You will receive information from the hospital about diet, activities, and medicine.
  • You will need to have regular checkups with your doctor.
  • Your doctor may suggest that you attend a cardiac rehab program. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you recover and prevent problems with your heart. Ask your doctor if rehab is right for you.
  • When you leave the hospital, your doctor may give you a blood thinner for a few months to prevent blood clots. If you get a blood thinner, be sure you get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.

Why It Is Done

TAVR is done to treat narrowing (stenosis) of the aortic valve. This is the valve between your heart and the blood vessel (the aorta) that carries blood to your body. TAVR may also be done to replace an artificial aortic valve.

How Well It Works

This procedure can help people who have aortic stenosis feel better and live longer.

But how well this procedure works depends on several things, such as other health problems that a person has. These include other heart problems. Doctors are still learning who might benefit the most from TAVR.

Because TAVR is a newer treatment, doctors don't yet know the long-term benefits or risks. They also don't know how long the valves will last. But research shows that they work well for at least 5 years.footnote 1

Risks

TAVR doesn't involve open-heart surgery. But the procedure does have serious risks. Some risks last just a short time. Others are long-term.

Risks include:

  • Heart block. This is a problem with the electrical system in the heart. It can cause a slow heart rate. If this happens, a person may need a permanent pacemaker.
  • Injury to the blood vessel used to put the catheter in the heart.
  • Serious bleeding problems.
  • Damage to the heart from the catheter.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Death.

References

Citations

  1. Kapadia SR, et al. (2015). 5-year outcomes of transcatheter aortic valve replacement compared with standard treatment for patients with inoperable aortic stenosis (PARTNER1): A randomised controlled trial. Lancet. Published online March 15, 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60290-2. Accessed March 25, 2015.

Credits

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.