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Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Completes 100th Minimally Invasive Aortic Valve Replacement Procedure

The expansion and growth of the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Central DuPage Hospital has achieved a milestone with the completion of 100 Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacements (TAVR). With TAVR, a narrowed aortic valve can be replaced using a catheter-based technique instead of open heart surgery.

“We are excited to see excellent patient outcomes for our first 100 patients and look forward to accelerating this program at Central DuPage Hospital,” said Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, executive director of the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and chief of cardiac surgery. “Without treatment, patients with severe aortic stenosis have a worse prognosis than many metastatic cancers. Once symptoms appear, early intervention is critical. We are proud to have pioneered this minimally invasive option downtown at Northwestern Memorial.”

transcatheter aortic valve During TAVR, interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons thread an artificial valve to the heart via a catheter, or tube, inserted in the patient’s groin. The valve is expanded and wedges the new valve within the patient’s own diseased aortic valve. The TAVR valve pushes the diseased valve leaflets to the side allowing the TAVR valve to take over the job of regulating blood flow.

On January 22, Adolph Kunzelman, of Geneva, became the 100th patient at Central DuPage Hospital to undergo a TAVR procedure. The independent 90-year-old is eager to get back to his active life, which includes playing pool at the local senior center.

“I’m used to doing everything on my own and I don’t want anything to slow me down,” said Kunzelman. “I’ve been short of breath and getting very tired, so it was time to get this done.”

Transcatheter techniques like those used in TAVR allow the procedure to be performed while the patient’s heart is still beating, eliminating the need for the heart-lung machine and an open heart operation.

“With this program, our patients in the community have available a cutting-edge catheter-based therapy for aortic valve replacement that is less invasive than surgery,” said Imran Ahmad, MD, medical director of interventional cardiology at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “The 100th transcatheter aortic valve replacement at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital is a wonderful milestone and great achievement. I am very proud of our TAVR team and physician operators.”

Cardiologist at Central DuPage Hospital perform a TAVR procedureThe team is composed of an interventional cardiologist, cardiac surgeon, a cardiac imaging specialist, valve clinic coordinator, structural heart nurse and a structural heart nurse practitioner. The team meets on a weekly basis to review patient cases to decide the best plan for that patient and to provide updates on other TAVR patients.

“The 100th TAVR at Central DuPage Hospital reflects the dedication of all involved from planning to delivery of care. It is very gratifying to see patients relieved of suffering and able to quickly resume their activities,” said Gyu Gang, MD, surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute West Region.

Five months after receiving her new valve 80-year-old Pauline Sielski, of Crystal Lake, is looking forward to traveling to the Caribbean for one of her favorite hobbies – snorkeling. The former operating room nurse knew that open heart surgery at her age would be risky. She jumped at the chance to undergo a TAVR.

“I’ve always been a very active person. In fact, I still move the furniture in my house around every four months just to keep things fresh. But last March I could barely get up the stairs,” said Sielski. “After the TAVR, there was no slowing me down. I was ready to get back up on my ladder to paint. I’ve also returned to work providing home care.”

The first TAVR was performed at Central DuPage Hospital in December of 2016, shortly before a 2017 Valentine’s Day event announcing the expansion of the world-renowned Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute (BCVI) to Central DuPage, Delnor and Kishwaukee Hospitals. The BCVI program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital pioneered TAVR and transcatheter techniques.

U.S. News & World Report's 2018-19 "Best Hospitals" report ranked Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Cardiology and Heart Surgery program among the top 10 programs in the nation for the last 4 years, and the No. 1 ranked program in Illinois and surrounding states for over 10 years. The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Central DuPage Hospital offers the unique blend of academic medicine and clinical research in a community hospital setting.

In addition to the rapid growth of the heart valve program, the BCVI expansion has led to numerous developments at Central DuPage Hospital, including a new Advanced Heart Failure Clinic and cutting-edge procedures for heart rhythm disorders.

Learn more about Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.