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Jeffrey Lau, MD, Cathy Young, RN, and Christian Spies, MDThe Queen's Medical Center has been selected as the first and only hospital in Hawai’i to offer a new non-surgical treatment for aortic stenosis, or the narrowing of the heart valves. The treatment will be available to select patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on November 2, 2011, the new treatment allows replacement of the aortic heart valve via a catheter inserted into an artery in the groin. The minimally invasive procedure, called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which uses the SAPIEN heart valve from Edwards Lifesciences, has been approved at only a limited number of selected medical centers across the nation. As a selected site, Queen's Heart has also partnered with other Hawai’i cardiac surgeons and cardiologists to form the Pacific Valve Consortium, which will help identify and treat Hawai’i patients who can benefit from TAVR. "Queen's Heart, in collaboration with the Pacific Valve Consortium, is among the first in the nation chosen to use this new technology outside of earlier research trials," said Art Ushijima, QHS/QMC President.

Once the symptoms of aortic stenosis develop, the prognosis for a patient is poor, and the probability of death within two years is greater than 50%. Symptoms of severe aortic stenosis usually include chest pain, fainting, and shortness of breath. Patients can also experience fatigue, heart palpitations, and other symptoms, and the heart-weakening effects of the disease often leads to heart failure. With an aging population, over 100,000 people in the United States live with significant aortic stenosis. However, surgery is not an options for a large group of these patients because they are too fragile for open heart surgery. In Hawai’i, 400 to 500 people a year are diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis.

Illustration of valve deploymentUse of the new technology requires a highly specialized and specific team, such as the Queen's Heart Center for Valve and Structural Heart Disease at The Queen's Medical Center and the Pacific Valve Consortium, which consists of a network of cardiovascular surgeons, non-invasive cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, radiologists, and nurse practitioners. "For the past two years, cardiac surgeons and cardiologists at Queen's Heart have been teaming up to bring this new technology to the islands," said Cathy Young, Vice President of Cardiac, Medicine, and Geriatrics at Queen's. "Thanks to their diligent efforts, and with the establishment of the Pacific Valve Consortium, we now have an alternative in Hawai’i to treat more patients who may be too ill to receive standard surgical valve replacement therapy."

"TAVR is truly transformational, as this technology will change the way we practice cardiovascular medicine and surgery in the United States," said Christian Spies, MD, Medical Director of Cardiac Invasive Labs and Interventional Cardiologist at Queen's. "For patients who are not surgical candidates, TAVR can substantially improve their health status, quality of life and improve mortality compared to standard therapy."

Patients will be evaluated at the Valve Clinic of the Queen's Heart Center for Valve and Structural Heart Disease by a multi-disciplinary team to determine if TAVR is feasible. For more information, call 808.691.8808, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.qhpp.com.

Photo caption:
Jeffrey Lau, MD, Cathy Young, RN, and Christian Spies, MD.

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