Center for Aortic Valve Disease

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Aortic valve disease can decrease quality of life and lead to serious complications, including heart failure.

At the UPMC Center for Aortic Valve Disease, our experts specialize in the latest treatment options, including minimally invasive catheter-based techniques, and provide individualized treatment plans for each patient.​

About the Center for Aortic Valve Disease

Your heart has four valves that open and close to keep blood flowing in the right direction. Your aortic valve connects your heart’s lower left chamber—the left ventricle—to your body’s largest artery, the aorta. In most cases, the aortic valve has three flaps called leaflets which must open fully and close tightly to allow for healthy blood flow.

When the aortic valve becomes stiff or narrow, blood cannot flow through it properly. This can lead to a range of symptoms, decreased quality of life, and over time, a serious condition known as heart failure, when the heart cannot pump effectively.

Symptoms of aortic valve disease

Aortic valve disease may not have symptoms at first, but some symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting, especially after exercise or with exertion
  • Heart murmur, or abnormal heart sounds
  • Fatigue

Types of aortic valve disease

Aortic valve disease can be present from birth or develop as you age. Our multidisciplinary team of experts provides treatment for all types of aortic valve disease, including:

  • Aortic stenosis
  • Aortic regurgitation
  • Bicuspid aortic valve
  • End-stage valvular heart disease

Treatment of aortic valve disease

To develop your treatment plan, our multidisciplinary team takes your individual condition, medical history, symptoms, and quality of life into consideration. We provide the latest treatment options for all stages of aortic valve disease, including:

  • Medical management for heart failure symptoms
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement
  • Open surgery

Watch Videos

In The News

Read about aortic valve procedure alternatives for the elderly, featuring Dr. Gleason, on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

About the TAVR Program

TAVR offers a minimally invasive valve replacement option for people with severe aortic stenosis and for patients with failing previous surgical tissue aortic valve replacements.

Severe aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not fully open, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. It's often unpreventable.

Many people with severe aortic stenosis often develop debilitating symptoms that can restrict normal daily activities.

For many years, treatment options for severe heart valve condition were limited to open heart surgery and medical therapy.

Now, TAVR offers a less invasive approach for people who are at increased surgical risk or have been turned down for traditional aortic valve replacement because of age or other medical conditions.

How does TAVR work?

During a TAVR procedure, your doctor:

  • Accesses an artery in your leg or chest, or through a space in your ribs.
  • Uses special moving x-ray imaging — called fluoroscopy — and guides a catheter containing the replacement valve, which is made of biological tissue inside a stent, to your aortic valve.
  • Deploys the replacement valve, using the catheter-based approach, in the right place. The replacement valve expands over your existing valve, restoring proper blood flow.

What are the advantages of TAVR?

Since many people with severe aortic stenosis are at increased surgical risk and have considerable mortality in the short term, TAVR may provide a treatment pathway that would otherwise be unavailable.

TAVR:

  • Is a less invasive procedure that surgeons perform while the heart beats.
  • Does not involve open-heart surgery or require the need for a heart-lung bypass machine.
  • May result in a faster, milder recovery.

What are the risks of TAVR?

TAVR is a significant procedure that involves anesthesia.

Placement of the valve may have serious adverse effects, including risks of:

  • Stroke
  • Damage to the artery used for insertion of the valve
  • Major bleeding
  • Other serious life-threatening events or even death

Our experience

UPMC is one of the first hospitals in the United States to treat people with severe aortic stenosis with the FDA-approved Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve and the Medtronic CoreValve®.

We are also enrolling low risk patients in the Medtronic TAVR in Low Risk Patients clinical trials, in addition to the ongoing aortic valve clinical trials available to patients at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

 

Tavr 

Above: Edwards SAPIEN Transcatheter Heart Valve

Core Valve 

Above: Medtronic Corevalve

Our Aortic Valve Disease Experts

Our multidisciplinary team at the UPMC Center for Aortic Valve Disease includes experts in cardiology and cardiac surgery.

Contact the UPMC Center for Aortic Valve Disease

For patients

To schedule an appointment:

For providers

For information about TAVR eligibility requirements, contact:

  • Lisa Henry, DNP, CRNP, Clinical Project Director, at 412-647-4745 or 1-877-412-VALV (8258)
  • Email ValveCenter@UPMC.edu

For TAVR scheduling

Please call 412-647-1621

We also have satellite sites for evaluation in Monroeville and at UPMC Jameson, UPMC Passavant, UPMC St. Margaret, and Washington Hospital.