NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Nora Robinson, a 91-year-old resident of New Fairfield, is feeling ready to ride ever since having minimally invasive heart valve surgery at Danbury Hospital.
Robinson likes to knit and quilt, and when she gets a chance, go for a ride on a motorcycle as a passenger.
But when she began experiencing shortness of breath, Robinson went to see Dr. Brian Pollack of Cardiac Specialists.
“I had quite a bit of a problem for a long time,” she said. “If I walked up my driveway, or walked too far, I would have pain in my heart and be gasping for breath. I was kind of depressed when I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do.”
Pollack diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis and referred her to the Heart Valve Center at Danbury Hospital and Dr. Marc Krichavsky, an interventional cardiologist to consider a transcatheter aortic valve replacement.
Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, which restricts the blood flow exiting the heart, leading to shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain. The condition commonly develops during aging.
On June 24, Krichavsky, along with a cardiac team at Danbury Hospital, performed a TAVR procedure on Robinson. The minimally invasive surgical procedure spares patients from the trauma of traditional open-heart surgery.
“Rather than have to open up the chest and put the valve in directly, we were able to deliver the valve through an artery in her leg,” Krichavsky said. “The technology is really quite amazing, and the patients are able to go home and get back to their normal lives much, much faster.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved TAVR procedure in 2011, and Danbury Hospital has been performing it since October 2013.
“I was in the hospital three days only, and I was just fine. From the very beginning the teamwork was absolutely fantastic each and every one,” Robinson said. “It was really a good experience — if you can say that about an operation.”
Patients who come to Danbury Hospital can access all the cardiac specialists they need at one location.
“It’s a tremendous advantage for Danbury Hospital ... to have the TAVR program, where we can offer this cutting-edge care,” said Krichavsky.
And it made all the difference in the world to Robinson.
“After the operation I was able to walk up my driveway with no problem at all, which made me very happy,” she said.