TAVR heart procedure gives patient another chance for life and love
Albert Espinoza, 73, a positive man, is grateful to be alive and quite the storyteller. He smiles as he shares stories of growing up in San Antonio, Texas surrounded by generations of family. “We traveled throughout Texas and Arkansas to pick Black Diamond or striped watermelons and cotton,” says Espinoza. Hard work stirred up a hearty appetite and Espinoza says his grandmas cooked tortillas fried in lard, potatoes, rice, beans and bacon outdoors over an open flame. “These foods were a staple and were so good,” says Espinoza.
It was the latter that may have caused his first health scare. Back in 2008, he averted a heart attack by having a quadruple bypass surgery. Espinoza changed his diet, even putting down that occasional beer.
Last year, Espinoza found himself fatigued and short of breath. “I could only walk a block then I had to sit down. I blamed it on my bad knees,” laughed Espinoza.” It was his heart again, this time aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve through which oxygen-rich blood from the heart’s main pumping chamber flows into the aorta and throughout the body. Espinoza’s heart was working too hard.
Legacy Emanuel offers a treatment for aortic stenosis called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in addition to traditional surgery. Dr. Amish Desai, M.D., FACC, Legacy Health's Director of Structural Heart Services, said Espinoza was a candidate for this minimally invasive procedure that implants a new tissue aortic valve without removing the existing, damaged valve or opening the chest. Doctors made an incision in Espinoza’s thigh artery and threaded the new valve in position. Once there, it started functioning right away.
Dr. Desai says with an aging population, aortic stenosis is a growing health concern and is mainly associated with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. “It’s very common and serious for older patients and if it’s left untreated, the mortality rate is extremely high, within two years.”
“The doctor told me in detail what he was going to do, showed me a model heart and I said, 'Let’s do it!'” Espinoza says with a broad smile. Espinoza only spent three days in the hospital and went home.
Espinoza is glad the TAVR is helping his heart work better because he still has a lot of life to live. The retired oil worker and welder enjoys making kites, listening to blues and dining out with his siblings. He’s planning a trip to Texas real soon. “Life is good and I have fond memories of those early days and family meals,” says Espinoza. Espinoza has fond memories of his high school sweetheart too who still lives in San Antonio and is now widowed. “She’s still good-looking,” says Espinoza. “The older the violin the sweeter the music.”
For more information about Legacy’s Structural Heart Services, click here. For media inquiries contact: Vicki Guinn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-413-2939. Photo: Vicki Guinn.