David Finds Relief Following TAVR Procedure

David Conzelman was having shortness of breath and was feeling more tired than usual.

A visit to Hatim Mahmood, MD, a BJC Medical Group of Illinois interventional cardiologist on staff at Memorial Hospital Belleville, revealed severe aortic stenosis, where the heart’s aortic valve wasn’t opening all the way and was blocking blood flow to his body.

“Dr. Mahmood told me that my aortic valve needed replacement,” Conzelman says. To fix his damaged valve and clear the pathway for blood flow, Dr. Mahmood recommended a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure. TAVR is a minimally invasive alternative to open heart valve replacement surgery and provides an option for people who may not be candidates for open heart surgery.

Memorial Hospital Belleville recently received approval to start offering the TAVR procedure. “Hospitals must meet several benchmarks and metrics before offering the procedure to patients,” says structural nurse coordinator Shanan Hesseldenz, RN. “Reaching this milestone represents two years of hard work from a dedicated team at Memorial Hospital.”

Previously, patients at Memorial Hospital who qualified for the TAVR procedure had to visit two different BJC HealthCare hospitals. They had pre-testing at Memorial Hospital Belleville and then went to Christian Hospital for surgery and recovery. “After recovery, patients followed up with their surgeon at Christian Hospital before resuming care with their cardiologist at Memorial Hospital,” Hesseldenz says. “Being able to offer the TAVR procedure at Memorial Hospital allows patients to stay close to home.”

Elsayed Abo-Salem, MD, a BJC Medical Group of Illinois interventional cardiologist on staff at Memorial Hospital Belleville, says, “At Memorial Hospital Belleville, patients receive care from a specialized team who have an in-depth knowledge of cardiac diseases and treatments. This specialization allows patients to receive the care they need under one roof.”

Preparing for Surgery
Conzelman was nervous when he heard “heart surgery” and talked to Shanan and Dr. Abo-Salem. “They took my feelings seriously and answered my questions, never rushing me,” he says. Before his TAVR procedure could be scheduled, Conzelman had to pass pre-testing. “Everyone who is a patient for TAVR goes through a series of tests to make sure they are the right candidate,” Hesseldenz says.

Over the following weeks, Conzelman had a physical exam and several tests, including CT scans, lung tests, X-rays and blood tests. “I’m thankful that Shanan was by my side,” he says. “She made everything very easy by helping me coordinate appointments and answer questions.”

After passing the tests, Conzelman’s TAVR procedure was scheduled and moved up to June 22 after he had an episode of left arm pain, another symptom of his heart problem.

Conzelman’s procedure took about 1½ hours under sedation like that used for a colonoscopy. During the surgery, Dr. Abo-Salem inserted a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) through a tiny incision in an artery in David’s leg. Inside the catheter was a folded replacement valve, which was placed securely within the old valve, the new valve deployed over the old valve using a balloon.

Smooth Recovery
After surgery, Conzelman recovered in the hospital before he was discharged home. With the TAVR procedure behind him, David feels much better and says his shortness of breath has ended, and he has more energy. Also, he hasn’t experienced any left arm pain. As part of his recovery, Conzelman participated in cardiac rehabilitation at Memorial Hospital. “During my rehab, therapists guided me through exercises for improving my heart and body strength,” he says. “I can tell my muscles are stronger, and the rehab is having a positive effect.”

Conzelman says the entire heart team at Memorial Hospital Belleville brought him comfort and confidence during his experience. “My care was wonderful. I’m thankful I could have the procedure done at Memorial Hospital, which is close to my home.”

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