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In sickness and health: one couple’s TAVR story

320x320 Dorothea and Bernard Bach share their TAVR storiesBernard and Dorothea Bach have experienced a great deal in their 64 years of marriage, including the births of four children and 12 grandchildren, as well as countless memories that have made their life together special. What makes them especially unique is the fact that they’ve also shared the experience of having a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure, which has helped them both get back to better health. They share their TAVR story here.

A year and a half ago, Bernard felt he was slowing down a bit. At age 89, he wasn’t able to do his regular workout routine and was experiencing shortness of breath. With a history of heart issues, including a new artificial heart valve in 2000 to replace a leaking valve, Bernard’s latest symptoms led to an emergency room visit where an echocardiogram revealed aortic valve regurgitation. His age and condition made Bernard a candidate for TAVR, a procedure for those who cannot tolerate open-heart surgery. The procedure, performed by the U-M TAVR team, was a success. The next day Bernard was sitting up enjoying breakfast, ready to go home. “My TAVR surgery was performed on Friday and I felt like a new person the next day,” he says Today, Bernard is feeling great, and is encouraging Dorothea, 89, as she recuperates from her own recent TAVR procedure, which was performed on July 11 by the U-M TAVR team. In the months prior to her procedure, Dorothea says she was feeling weak and tired, but couldn’t understand why. As an active couple, she and Bernard had always been the “get-up-and-go” type, not letting their age slow them down.

Dorothea’s lack of energy had her concerned enough to see her internist, who performed an echocardiogram, the results of which led her to a cardiologist at U-M and a diagnosis of calcification of the heart valve and valve leakage. Dorothea, like Bernard, was a candidate for the TAVR procedure at U-M. “My doctor indicated that without surgery I wouldn’t be here in a couple of years. I did not hesitate to have the procedure,” she says. Although her recovery wasn’t as quick as Bernard’s, Dorothea says she feels much better today. “I’m able to walk long distances without feeling fatigued.” Her physical therapy assignment is to walk around the interior of her condominium a total of 30 times a day, something she says she can now easily accomplish.

TAVR’s history of success

The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center TAVR team has performed over 375 aortic valve implants (the most in Michigan) and is among the top programs in the country in terms of our heart valve experience. U-M was the first hospital in the state of Michigan to offer both the Edwards Heart Valve and the Medtronic Core Valve® for patients who have limited surgical alternatives. (Both of these options are known as TAVI or TAVR treatments, which stand for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.)

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Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.