Health Team

Less invasive heart valve replacements key for high-risk patients

Posted May 29, 2015 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2015 6:34 p.m. EDT

— More heart procedures are being done from inside the body rather than through large incisions outside the body.

That now includes a heart valve replacement for certain patients who are at a higher risk of complications from standard surgery.

Annette Peed, a 76-year-old Wilson County woman, was a perfect candidate for the procedure, which is done without general anesthesia. Not long ago, Peed said she thought her life was ending.

"I was tired all the time, and I didn't have any energy," she said.

Lee Jobe, an interventional cardiologist at Rex Hospital, said Peed was suffering from critical aortic stenosis.

"It means that her aortic valve was very tight and not allowing enough blood to come out of her heart," Jobe said.

Other health issues meant Peed might not survive open-heart surgery to replace the valve, so she was put under "conscious sedation" so doctors could deliver an artificial valve to her heart through a catheter placed in the femoral artery.

A balloon pushed the diseased valve back and allowed doctors to replace it with a new valve.

Jobe said the lighter level of sedation results in a quicker recovery period.

"It's amazing," Bill Peed, Annette's husband, said.

Dr. Chris Gring, a Rex cardiologist, said Peed didn't have any adverse effects.

"She's thinking clearer, faster. She's breathing on her own faster," Gring said. "She doesn't receive any of the side-effects of anesthesia, which can be a lot of fluctuations in blood pressure and require a lot of extra medications."

One day after surgery, Peed was walking up and down the halls. A week earlier, she struggled to take 10 steps.

"I couldn't ask to feel any better than I do now," she said.

Doctors say the preferred method for heart valve replacement is through open-heart surgery because it has a longer track record of success in patients at low risk of complications.