The two Bradenton men, ages 91 and 88, complained of extreme shortness of breath even with minimal exertion. They were diagnosed with aortic stenosis, a condition where the aortic valve in their hearts had narrowed due to calcium deposits, causing their hearts to work harder to pump blood.
Their friends wondered how men of their age could possibly survive heart surgery.
On Monday, the two patients of Dr. Srinivas Iyengar, an interventional cardiologist at Bradenton Cardiology Center and Manatee Memorial Hospital, became the first two people to have transcatheter aortic valve replacement, commonly known as TAVR, at Manatee Memorial.
During roughly 45-minute surgeries, 4-inch-long and inch-wide aortic heart valves called medtronic corevalve bioprostesis made of pig heart valves and nickle titanium were guided by Iyengar into their hearts through catheters inserted in the femoral arteries in their groins.
The men were back home in 48 hours, feeling spry and walking soon after surgery with no more shortness of breath, Iyengar said Thursday.
“This procedure is a game-changer,” Iyengar said. “It’s proven effective for patients who are told they are too old or at too much risk. But we can do a major procedure on these patients and have them playing golf in days. It’s by far the most amazing thing I have been a part of in medicine.”
Iyengar, 43, was part of the team at Columbia University in New York in 2007 that did the first TAVR procedures in the nation. He has performed more than 200 of the procedures.
In 2009, Iyengar was recruited to Manatee County by Bradenton Cardiology Center, 316 Manatee Ave. W., because of his TAVR and other catheter-delivered valve expertise.
Iyengar did the first TAVR procedure in Manatee County in 2012 at Blake Medical Center.
The surgeries at Manatee Memorial were not the first TAVRs in Manatee County, but marked the first time a Manatee County hospital has been able to perform all three catheter-delivered heart valve procedures, including TAVR, the Watchman implant for patients with atrial fibrillation who also have problems taking blood thinners and the MitraClip for people who have a leaky mitral valve, Iyengar said.
“Blake Medical Center has been doing the TAVR, but the reason this is such a big story is that Manatee Memorial is the only hospital in Manatee County and among less than five hospitals in the state that are performing all three of these procedures in one setting,” Iyengar said.
Kevin DiLallo, chief executive officer of Manatee Healthcare System, said: “These three advanced cardiac services have given new hope to heart patients with serious cardiac conditions. We’re proud to be the only hospital in Manatee, Sarasota and Pinellas counties to offer the TAVR, Watchman implant and MitraClip procedures to our cardiac patients.”
For his work at Manatee Memorial Hospital, Iyengar recently got the coveted title, structural heart director.
“Now, officially, we are a fully functional cardiac valve institute,” Iyegar said of Manatee Memorial.
Cardiac valve institute
Manatee Memorial has done a high volume of these three procedures, another reason why Iyegar and others say Manatee Memorial can call itself a cardiac valve institute.
The hospital has done more than 50 cases of the Watchman procedure since the first procedure at the hospital in November, Iyegar said.
The hospital has done more than 80 Mitra Clip procedures in the last two years and now has done its first two TAVR procedures.
“We are the No. 1 Watchman implant center in Florida with the fastest-growing volume and lowest-complication rates,” Iyegar said. “We expect TAVR to rival MitraClip very soon.”
Doctors assisting Iyengar included co-surgeon, Dr. Joseph Alesnik, and Dr. Eugene Parent.