After valve replacement wears out, new procedure can help fix a broken heart

Data pix.

Most doctors had written off Rosalyn Davenport, 87. Then she found a place willing to learn a cutting-edge technique to save her life.

“I could’ve died instantly if somebody didn’t know what they were doing. So, they researched it in my opinion very well,” she said.

When dizziness and fatigue got so bad, Davenport could barely leave her house.  She thought she had no options. Years earlier she had a valve replacement. For nearly a decade it gave her energy and ability, but after nine years, the valve wore out.

“I was getting pressure and not feeling right, so I ended up in the emergency,” she said.

Dr Andrei Pop is a interventional cardiologist at Amita Health.

“The valve was no longer closing properly, and a lot of blood was leaking backwards into her heart,” Pop said.

But replacing the replacement valve was tricky. It was too close to the main artery in Davenport’s heart.

“She would have lost blood flow to the heart, which potentially could’ve been life-threatening,” Pop said.

The condition and the repair were both potentially fatal. It was a case so complicated, doctors at Amita Health needed to call in experts from the National Institutes of Health.

“In the end, the decision was made to use a novel technique that had been pioneered a few years ago,” Pop said. “She is very dynamic, she is very much affected by the way she is feeling, and so we felt that we had to do everything in our power to help her.”

Both the interventional cardiologists and Rosalyn had faith the BASILICA procedure would work. It starts with catheters threaded to the heart.

“Here we have two catheters that come from her groin and contain a continuous wire. Both ends of this wire being outside the body and through which we apply electricity,” Pop said.

The current slices through the old valve leaflets, which cannot be removed but would have pressed dangerously against the opening of the coronary artery when the replacement transaortic valve was placed.

“So this shows you the valve being deployed, the balloon inflates, the valve opens up the stent, the valve opens up and grabs the old valve, and as soon as this is done, the balloon is deflated and the heart goes back to normal function,” Pop said. “We are very satisfied with the results.”

And just like that, Davenport was fixed.

Davenport  said she took the leap of faith mainly to help others.

“I said, if I can get this and if it will help somebody else, that’s what will make me happy,” she said. “I can’t believe it, it’s so wonderful!”

And now that they did it on her, she realizes how much she helped herself in the process.

For now, she is making plans -- dinner with friends and planting flowers in the yard.

For more information on the BASILICA procedure performed at Amita Health Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, go to their website or call 1-855-MyAMITA (1-855-692-6482)

 

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