New Fairfield Resident Ready to Ride Following Minimally Invasive Heart Valve Surgery at Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital

DANBURY, Connecticut – February 8, 2016 – New Fairfield resident Nora Robinson, 91, does a lot of knitting, quilting, and when she gets a chance, goes riding on a motorcycle as a passenger every chance she gets.

When Nora began experiencing shortness of breath upon exertion, she went to see her cardiologist Dr. Brian Polack of Cardiac Specialists. “I had quite a bit of a problem for a long time,” Nora Robinson said. “If I walked up my driveway, or walked too far, I would have pain in my heart and be gasping for breath. I was kind of depressed when I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do.”

Following a comprehensive examination and diagnostic testing, Dr. Pollack diagnosed Nora with severe aortic stenosis then referred her to the Heart Valve Center at Danbury Hospital where she met Dr. Marc Krichavsky, an interventional cardiologist and the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) team for evaluation.

According to the American Heart Association, aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, which restricts the blood flow exiting the heart, leading to shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain. This condition more commonly develops during aging as calcium or scarring damages the valve.

On June 24, 2015, Dr. Krichavsky along with a multidisciplinary cardiac team at Danbury Hospital performed a TAVR procedure on Nora. The minimally invasive surgical procedure spares patients from some of the trauma of traditional open-heart surgery.  

“Rather than have to open up the chest and put the valve in directly, we were able to deliver the valve through an artery in her leg,” Dr. Krichavsky said.  “The technology is really quite amazing and the patients are able to go home and get back to their normal lives much, much faster.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved TAVR procedure in 2011 for patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis deemed too risky to undergo standard aortic valve replacement because of their advanced age and multiple medical conditions. Danbury Hospital has been performing the TAVR procedure since October 2013.

“I was in the hospital three days only and I was just fine. From the very beginning the teamwork was absolutely fantastic each and every one,” Nora Robinson said. “It was really a good experience if you can say that about an operation.”

Patients who come to Danbury Hospital can easily access all the cardiac specialists they need at one convenient location. “It’s really important to have a Valve team taking care of patients particularly for this surgery where many of our patients are in their 80s and 90s.  For them to have to come in and make multiple visits really is a tremendous inconvenience and it offers a huge advantage for all of us to get together and to collaborate on their care,” Dr. Krichavsky said.

“You get multiple opinions from a cardiac surgeon, from an interventional cardiologist.  We all put our best recommendations forward and give an integrated recommendation for what’s best for you as an individual patient,” added Dr. Krichavsky.

“Each doctor that I’ve encountered was really great, always giving a lot of time and always listening to whatever questions you might have,” said Nora Robinson. “It made me feel as if somebody cared and at that time that’s when you need someone to really care.”

“It’s a tremendous advantage for Danbury Hospital and our surrounding communities to have the TAVR program, where we can offer this cutting-edge care without our patients having to travel outside of their community,” said Dr. Krichavsky. “We’re very proud to be able to do it here.”

“After the operation I was able to walk up my driveway with no problem at all which made me very happy,” Nora Robinson said.

For information regarding TAVR, the minimally invasive surgical procedure to replace the aortic value, call Danbury Hospital Heart Valve Center at (203) 739-6858.

About the Praxair Regional Heart and Vascular Center

The Praxair Regional Heart and Vascular Center at Danbury Hospital offers life-saving cardiovascular care.  Our highly trained specialists and skilled clinical teams are supported by the most advanced technology, which allows them to rapidly diagnose and effectively treat cardiac and vascular diseases. The Center is Chest Pain accredited and has an experienced team of doctors, nurses, and technicians recruited from the finest academic medical centers available 24/7 for emergency treatment of heart attacks. Our Vascular Surgery Service is Vein Center accredited, an award shared by less than 50 vein centers nationwide.  Our patients experience the best service and outcomes in the region while staying close to home because all the resources they need are right here.

At the Praxair Regional Heart and Vascular Center, patients have access to a range of services, including disease prevention, diagnostic testing, interventional cardiology, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) endovascular stenting, electrophysiology and minimally invasive and open cardiac and minimally invasive open heart and vascular surgery. Additional resources include the Marcus Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, the Women's Cardiac Program, clinical research trials, and support services and programs. The Center is also a regional training facility for interns, residents and cardiovascular disease fellows.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. The organization is anchored by three nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the three hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes numerous medical practices and sub-specialties across the region, home health care services, a nationally renowned biomedical research institute, the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation, the Norwalk Hospital Foundation and other affiliates. For more information, visit our websites:  www.danburyhospital.org; www.newmilfordhospital.org; and www.norwalkhospital.org. For more information, visit WCHN.org. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital; Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital and/or Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.