Slowing down with age was something Genevieve Boguszewski simply couldn’t accept. By age 87, a body changes but she suddenly couldn’t manage her own gardening or vacuum a rug. She needed oxygen just to get around.
Following care at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center to replace a diseased aortic valve, she’s not just getting older, but better. Elderly patients like her often cannot tolerate open heart surgery, but with the TAVR procedure, valve replacement was possible.
“I could tell from the look on his face how far I’d come,” she says of her 30-day follow-up visit with University of Michigan interventional cardiologist Stanley Chetcuti, M.D. “He said I didn’t look like the same person. I definitely don’t feel like the same person. I told him ‘It’s because of you that I feel good again.’ “
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, better known as TAVR, is an alternative to surgery that’s giving hope to high-risk aortic patients. More TAVR procedures have been performed by the multidisciplinary aortic team at the University of Michigan than any other Michigan hospital and its volume puts U-M among the tops in the nation.
The U-M Cardiovascular Center recently celebrated reaching its 200th TAVR, which means more Tigers games, more Red Wings games and more outings for patients like Genevieve, who lives in Dearborn Heights, Mich.
A year ago, on Oct. 6, 2012, Genevieve became frighteningly out of breath at home. After calling her daughter she was taken by ambulance to a community hospital where she was admitted for pneumonia.
It wasn’t long before doctors diagnosed her with a heart condition called aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart valve.
Stenosis prevents the valve from opening properly, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood through the valve to the rest of the body. Without aortic valve replacement, half of patients will not survive more than an average of two years after symptoms begin.
She was referred to the U-M, where doctors performed TAVR, a minimally invasive procedure to replace her aortic valve on June 21. She was released from the hospital in four days and spent the last weeks of summer outdoors, and making plans with friends and family.
“Before the surgery, I told my doctor I knew people older who could run circles around me. Not anymore,” says Genevieve who spent 17 years as a pharmacy technician at Motor City Prescriptions in Lincoln Park and faithfully listens to the championship Tiger team — no oxygen needed. “I can shop without getting out of breath, and I’m getting outside to do the things I want to do.”
The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.