New heart centre sees first TAVI operations

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A specialist heart centre has successfully treated its first patients in Scotland.

Seven patients who were too ill to have open heart surgery have now received Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh centre, which was created in September.

If a patient is either not well enough for open heart surgery, or their heart and vessels are not suitable for replacement, TAVI can be used as an alternative treatment option if suitable.

The procedure is less invasive, as a replacement valve is passed through a hole in the groin and advanced up to the patient’s heart.

It is expected that the specialist operation will be suitable for around 50 Scottish patients a year.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said:

“Unfortunately some patients are just too ill to receive open heart surgery but this new specialist procedure can mean that they still get treatment they need.

“Previously, this service was only available outside of Scotland and people had to travel to get it. I am pleased to see that patients are already benefiting from this Scottish service.”

Clinical Director for Cardiac Services NHS Lothian Dr Neal Uren said:

“The service has begun making a real difference to the lives of patients already and we are delighted to see how well they have recovered.

“Without this procedure, these patients would not have been able to undergo treatment and their quality of life would continue to diminish.

“A total of seven people have undergone this groundbreaking procedure so far and as a team, we are delighted to be leading the Scottish service.

“The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is ideally placed to deliver TAVI for Scotland because it has all key integrated cardiovascular services under one roof.”

CASE STUDY:

Stephen Watters, 84, was among the first four people to have the lifesaving operation at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to replace faulty heart valves.

Since then Stephen and the other patients from all over Scotland, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness-shire have gone from strength and say they have been given their “lives back”.

Stephen, a retired publican, from Glasgow, said: “I was too old for open heart surgery and it was too dangerous for me so thank God there was some other way of repairing my heart valve. It’s incredible really.

“My life would have been terrible without it. I’m not ready for a marathon just yet, but I am taking it each day at a time.”

Aortic Stenosis affects around three per cent of the population over 75. The most effective treatment is to replace the valve through open heart surgery, of which there are around 900 operations per year.

TAVI was already available to Scottish patients on a case by case basis, with patients who are considered suitable being referred by their local Health Board to an appropriate provider outwith Scotland. Fifteen Scottish patients were referred for TAVI in 2011.

The new service will be closely monitored over the next six to 12 months, and consideration will be given to introducing a regional model of service, or extending to two sites