TAVR aortic valve replacement helps 95-year-old thrive

University of Michigan TAVR patient celebrates another Christmas

Joe S photo 2 blog

Joe Solak is happy to celebrate his 95th Christmas this year with his daughter, son-in-law, two sons and three grandchildren.

Joe Solak will celebrate his 95th Christmas this year, thanks to the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) he received at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center for his 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. 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.

Joe was one of these patients. His age and heart history, including bypass surgery in 1995 and a congestive heart failure condition, put him at high risk for open-heart surgery. According to Joe’s daughter, Donna Ruemenapp, her dad just wanted to feel better. “He was tired, short of breath and couldn’t sleep due to congestive heart failure.” And while his former doctor recommended treating his symptoms rather pursuing other options, Joe and Donna weren’t about to give up. Continue reading

Ascending aortic aneurysm patient is back to living

Two-time survivor shares her story and artwork

Lori Eslick blog

Lori Eslick enjoys plein air (open air) painting.

Lori Eslick had her first aortic root aneurysm repair in 2009 at age 49. As a regular runner and active mom, she had no symptoms related to the ascending aortic aneurysm that was growing. Her heart issues began as a newborn when she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and bicuspid aortic valve disease (a congenital abnormality).

When she became pregnant at age 39, a preventive EKG revealed no additional heart concerns. Then, 10 years later, another routine EKG ordered by Lori’s new general physician detected a problem that ultimately led to the diagnosis of her ascending aortic aneurysm. Her doctor recommended she go to the University of Michigan.

Lori was first seen by Dr. Himanshu Patel in November 2009 and underwent aortic surgery later that month. After her surgery, Dr. Patel and his team kept a close eye on Lori’s condition, examining her on a regular basis. Then, four years later, a second aneurysm was discovered just below where her previous aneurysm had been repaired — again with no outward symptoms. Continue reading