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Thursday, March 21 , 2019, 10:24 pm | Fair 52º

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Cottage Cardiology Center Achieves Heart Procedure Milestone

The Cottage Heart and Vascular Center at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital recently reached a milestone for advanced cardiology care by successfully using the TAVR procedure to treat 100 patients — more than any other health system on the Central Coast.

TAVR is the first non-surgical procedure for the replacement of the aortic valve.

“In less than two years, we have helped 100 patients who otherwise would not have been able to receive treatment because of the high risks associated with open heart surgery,” said Dr. Joseph Aragon, interventional cardiologist on the TAVR team.

“The number of people we have helped has exceeded the expectations we had when we completed our first TAVR in September 2015,” said Dr. Aragon, who also is medical director of the Structural Heart Program.

In the United States, 1.5 million people suffer from aortic stenosis, a serious medical condition where the aortic valve begins to narrow, reducing blood flow from the aorta to the rest of the body. This can cause shortness of breath, dizziness and heart failure.

The standard treatment is an aortic valve replacement. However, many patients, especially the elderly, are not able to have open-heart surgery due to the risk of complications.

At Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, a specialized team of cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists, and highly-trained nurses and technicians are involved in the TAVR program.

Instead of open-heart surgery, a collapsible aortic heart valve is inserted into the body via a catheter through the leg, and threaded up to the heart. The breakthrough TAVR technology means a surgical incision through the chest is not needed.

Dr. Aragon added that the TAVR procedure has now evolved and expanded to treat not only high-risk but intermediate-risk patients, and clinical trials are underway in low-risk patients.

“Because of our extensive experience in structural heart disease and success with TAVR, we are the only program on the central coast that is able to treat the broadest range of patients,” he said.

— Maria Zate for Cottage Health.


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