Honoring Our Veterans

Ray Tollefson, WWII U.S. Army Ranger and U-M TAVR patient shares his story

Ray_cross blog

Ray Tollefson realized his dream of traveling to France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Ray Tollefson barely survived World War II. As a U.S. Army Ranger, the 89-year-old remembers D-Day well, including the severe injuries he sustained during the battle at Normandy, and his ultimate mission to stay alive. Ray not only survived the war, he went on to live a full, happy life, which continues today, thanks to the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) he received at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center for his aortic stenosis. His life-saving TAVR procedure enabled Ray to fulfill an important wish: to travel to France this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Although open-heart surgery is the treatment of choice for aortic stenosis, about one-third of patients with this disease are not candidates for the surgery and stand to benefit from less invasive heart valve replacement options. Ray’s medical history placed him at high risk for open-heart surgery. Continue reading

TAVR patient gets back to enjoying life

Marilyn Reeve TAVR 320x320

TAVR patient Marilyn Reeve

Marilyn Reeve’s heart issues started with quadruple bypass surgery at age 59. Ten years later, she began having trouble walking short distances, needing to stop often to catch her breath. The diagnosis was aortic valve stenosis. Due to her health history, open-heart surgery was out of the question, according to her doctor. “She recommended I go to the University of Michigan to see if there was anything they could do for me,” Marilyn says.

Fortunately, Marilyn was a candidate for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a procedure for those who cannot tolerate open-heart surgery. Marilyn’s TAVR procedure was a success. “I had my procedure on a Friday and was home on Monday. It’s marvelous what they can do,” she says.

Today, at age 70, Marilyn is back to doing all her own yard work as well as other physical things she couldn’t have done two years ago. She credits the entire U-M TAVR team with helping her get her health back. “U-M is the best hospital ever,” she says. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Is it old age, or aortic stenosis symptoms?

Those suffering aortic stenosis symptoms often attribute them to old age

Elderly man and stethoscope - aortic stenosis symptoms can mimic signs of aging

Is your elderly parent or loved one “just getting older”? Or could his or her health problems be aortic stenosis symptoms?

Is your elderly parent or loved one experiencing normal slowdowns in health as a result of old age, or is it something more severe?

Aortic stenosis symptoms parallel health concerns that are often attributed to old age, including:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Increasing fatigue and low energy level
  • Heart murmur
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting or passing out

What is aortic stenosis?

Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Severe aortic stenosis is often unpreventable and is most commonly attributed to old age (70+). Other causes may be a buildup of calcium deposits causing narrowing of the valve, high blood pressure, radiation therapy or a history of rheumatic fever.

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Cardiovascular Center celebrates 200th TAVR, new hope for aortic patients

GenevieveBoguszewsi-blog

Genevieve Boguszewski, 87, enjoying life after TAVR to replace aortic valve.

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.’ “

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