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Winthrop Offers Heart Valve Replacement with No Open Surgery - Archived
July 17, 2012

Seventy-eight-year-old John Defazio of Hampton Bays was recently given a new lease on life, thanks to a new heart valve designed for patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery.

Mr. Defazio suffered from aortic valve stenosis – a severe chronic condition in which the aortic valve does not open properly, hindering the flow of blood from the heart to the rest of the body. As the heart works harder to pump enough blood through the smaller valve opening, the heart weakens, which can cause chest pain, heart palpitations, fatigue, and heart murmur, and may even lead to heart failure.

Traditionally, the primary treatment for aortic stenosis has been surgery. However, until recently, certain patients with severe stenosis were considered too sick for surgery. Therefore, their conditions were considered hopeless.

As Mr. Defazio’s condition worsened this past year, it became apparent that he would not be a candidate for surgery. His cardiologist referred him to Richard Schwartz, DO, Director of Cardiovascular Outreach at Winthrop-University Hospital, who identified Mr. Defazio as an ideal candidate for the new Edwards Sapien Transcathether Heart Valve. This valve is recommended for select patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery and were previously considered untreatable.

On April 27, 2012, a multidisciplinary team of physicians – including Dr. Schwartz, Kevin P. Marzo, MD, Chief of the Division of Cardiology, John A. Goncalves, MD, Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Scott L. Schubach, MD, Chairman of the Department of Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery – worked collaboratively to replace Mr. Defazio’s valve with the Edwards Sapien Transcathether Heart Valve. This procedure was performed without open heart surgery by inserting the aortic valve via a catheter through an artery in the groin and then advancing it up to the heart. The valve then expanded with a balloon and immediately functioned in place of Mr. Defazio’s own valve.

“As soon as I woke up, I felt so much better. I could breathe easier and my blood pressure improved. To me, it was a miracle,” said Mr. Defazio. “I can’t say enough about my whole team. They gave me a lease on life.”

Winthrop-University Hospital recently became one of only 70 centers in the United States to offer the Edwards Sapien Transcathether Heart Valve. This revolutionary new technology provides a unique opportunity for heart surgeons and interventionist cardiologists at Winthrop to work simultaneously to ensure patients receive the highest level of care.

The Heart and Vascular Institute at Winthrop has established a valve service where high-risk patients can be evaluated by a team of cardiologists, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeons to determine whether or not a patient is an appropriate candidate for this technology. Those who are not candidates for open heart surgery and are experiencing severe symptoms of aortic stenosis may be considered candidates. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

Contact: Carolann Martines
Associate Writer
(516) 663-2234