At 101, Patient is Nation's Oldest Transcatheter Heart Valve Replacement

When Doris Snyder celebrated her 102nd birthday on August 10, she was that much closer to the expected birth of her first great-granddaughter who's due to arrive early September. She is very excited about the milestone, which might not have been possible were it not for a cutting-edge, experimental procedure that replaced one of Doris' heart valves weeks earlier when she was 101. The valve had been rendered useless by aortic valve stenosis—hardening from calcium deposits that restrict the flow of blood from the heart.


"This procedure could be a major breakthrough for these patients, as they're generally told that nothing can be done for them," said Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery for Northwestern Memorial Hospital and director of the hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and the Heller-Sacks professor of Surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.


McCarthy is a co-principal investigator for the clinical trial that provided Doris' new heart valve, which is formally referred to as the Placement of AoRtic TraNscathetER Valve, or PARTNER. The Bluhm Institute is among the trial's pioneering sites. The technique is being evaluated as a course of therapy for patients who are considered too weak to undergo conventional open-heart surgery. It uses expandable-stenting technology to insert a prosthetic valve while the heart continues beating, eliminating the need for cardiopulmonary bypass and its associated risks.



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