A minimally invasive heart-valve replacement procedure makes a Florham
Park woman feel "brand new."
When Ida Williams saw her family doctor for a head cold, she wasn’t
expecting any unusual news. But when her physician listened to her lungs
and heart during what otherwise would have been a normal office visit,
he heard a heart murmur—often a sign of heart-valve disease—and
recommended that the 77-year-old retiree seek further treatment. Williams,
a Florham Park resident, had been told three years earlier that she had
a slight heart murmur. After hearing the news a second time, she decided
it was time for more information. “I wanted to know just how bad
it was,” she says.
After consulting with a cardiologist and undergoing testing, Williams was
referred to cardiac surgeon
Mark J. Russo, M.D., Director of the Center for Aortic Diseases and Cardiothoracic Research
at the Barnabas Health Heart Centers. Dr. Russo is a nationally renowned
heart surgeon who performs traditional open-heart surgery and minimally
invasive catheter-based procedures.
During Williams’ appointment with Dr. Russo, she was diagnosed with
aortic stenosis. After completing a comprehensive assessment and additional
testing, the doctor explained to her the various options for treatment
and recommended she undergo
transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
TAVR is a minimally invasive, FDA-approved treatment for severe aortic
stenosis. During the procedure, a synthetic or artificial valve is collapsed
and threaded through a blood vessel, usually via the groin, to the heart
on the tip of a catheter. Physicians use state-of-the-art imaging technology
to visualize its precise placement and expand the new valve. It begins
to function immediately and works like a normal, healthy valve that allows
for proper blood flow through the chambers of the heart. Because no chest
incision is required, recovery time is minimal. Patients experience less
pain and are often able to return home the following day.
Having performed more than 500 successful TAVR procedures, Dr. Russo and
the team from the Barnabas Health Heart Centers are among the most experienced
in the U.S. In an effort to offer greater access to this lifesaving therapy,
Dr. Russo and his colleagues
Bruce Haik, M.D., director of Cardiac Catheterization labs, Barnabas Health Heart
Centers, and Chunguang Chen, M.D., Director of Cardiac Imaging, Barnabas
Health Heart Centers, now perform TAVR at Saint Barnabas Medical Center
Williams was the first patient to undergo the TAVR at the facility. Today
she credits Dr. Russo and the nurses and staff with calming her nerves
and getting her back on her feet.
“Everybody was wonderful,” she says of her experience at Saint
Barnabas. “I was scared, but the nurses reassured me that I was
going to be all right. They were all angels. I wouldn’t dream of
going to another hospital.”
Even though Williams didn’t realize, until that fateful doctor visit,
the impact her heart condition was having on her life, she couldn’t
be more pleased with the outcome.
“I used to get out of breath a lot,” she says. “If I
was up moving around, I’d need to sit down for a few minutes here
and there because I’d be huffing and puffing. I never knew it was
related to my heart, but since the surgery, I’m doing it all with
ease. I feel much, much better—like I could run up a bunch of steps.
It’s a brand new me!”
To find out more about TAVR and cardiac services at Saint Barnabas Medical
Center, please call 973.926.6938 or
visit our website.