Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital performs 1,000th TAVR procedure

Innovative procedure to replace failing heart valves improves quality of life for patients with damaged aortic valves

Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital recently performed its 1,000th transcatheter aortic valve replacement — an innovative, minimally invasive procedure to help the heart more effectively pump blood to the rest of the body.

Virtua, which performed its first TAVR in 2013, has become a leading center for heart valve surgery. Virtua Health is one of only two South Jersey health systems to have reached this milestone.

Dr. Ibrahim Moussa, an interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at Virtua Health, said the impact of the milestone is evident.

“It is gratifying to have improved the lives of so many people in South Jersey — and to know that we will continue to support our community in this vital way,” he said.

“This achievement is a true team effort, reflective of a collaborative, comprehensive approach to care.”

TAVR treats aortic stenosis, a buildup of calcium on the leaflets of the aortic valve in the heart. Over time, the leaflets become stiff, reducing their ability to open and close fully. As a result, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. The heart may weaken, causing chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath.

TAVR uses a catheter threaded through an artery to insert a new valve inside the heart. Once opened, the new valve pushes aside the old one and begins to work immediately, restoring proper blood flow and instantly improving symptoms. Patients usually spend only one night in the hospital.

The procedure was initially developed as an alternative for people with aortic stenosis who, due to age or other medical conditions, were considered too high-risk for open-chest surgery. Over the years, the procedure has been expanded for use in younger, often healthier people at lower risk for complications.