Bay Medical Implements New Heart Procedure

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Bay Medical Sacred Heart is now offering a life-saving procedure for patients whose heart valves are not functioning.

"If a patient who has severe Aortic Stenosis, meaning that the front door leading to the rest of the body isn't opening anymore, the blood isn't getting to the brain and the body as it should. If they don't get that replaced, they're looking at a very limited quality and quantity of life," Dr. Amir Haghighat said.

The procedure is called TAVR, which stands for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement. Before February 1st, patients would have had to travel to Atlanta or another large city for the minimally-invasive treatment or undergo open heart surgery locally.

"It's a miracle, and they're a miracle team," Patient Nancy Vandenberg said.

Doctors use a small incision in the groin and a catheter to replace the failing valve. Patients typically spend two to four days in the hospital, compared to weeks of recovery for major surgeries.

"I was walking the same day. I was breathing better immediately. My family notices a difference," Vandenberg said.

"It's awesome. It really is to think that they've got that kind of procedure that can be done in Bay County is just amazing," Morris Denman, who also underwent the procedure, said.

The team of cardiologists has successfully treated 15 people since doctors implemented TAVR in February.

They expect to initially treat about 50 people a year but also believe that number will grow as more people hear about this new option.

"I think we're going to help so many more patients and possibly surrounding communities, referred here rather than university's. That's really our outlook," Dr. Haghighat added.

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