ROUND ROCK, Texas -- A new procedure is making it easier to address a serious heart condition called aortic stenosis. One Central Texan and some of his family have had a brush with the disease.

  • Leaflets in the heart's main pumping chamber begin to degenerate in old age
  • Less invasive procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement only takes a poke

“I had two older brothers and about eight years ago, one of them was really feeling fatigued,” said Hal Langley.

It’s the most common valvular heart disease in four percent of patients 85 or older. As we age, the leaflets in the heart's main pumping chamber--the aorta--begin to degenerate.

“Making an extra effort for the heart to be able to send blood through that narrow valve,” said Dr. Angel Caldera of Baylor Scott and White.

When Langley’s brother went to the doctor, open-heart surgery was recommended.

“Bottom line, they did that and 48 hours later he was dead,” said Langley.

Doctors at Baylor Scott and White are now using a much less invasive procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR for short. It only takes a poke with a needle.

“Through the needle stick we’ll advance a wire retrograde through the aorta, across the narrow valve and we park it in the main pumping chamber,” said Caldera.

It’s this procedure that was recommended when Langley began noticing symptoms associated with the disease.

“Actually, it sounded too easy, too simple. Like you go in one day and come out maybe tomorrow,” said Langley.

It’s a very delicate process but one that generally is easier for patients to tolerate.

“Once we are in the proper position, we once again make the heart beat rapidly for a few seconds and while that is happening we deploy the new valve inside of the old valve,” said Caldera.

Recovery time varies but it usually only takes a few days.

“I’m not out running a mile or anything but I can do almost anything within reason,” said Langley.

He will still need to come in for regular check-ups, but he says this newest development in medicine gives him peace of mind.

“It’s amazing. I wish my brother had had the same procedure. I think he’d still be alive today,” he said.

The Food and Drug Administration approved TAVR for low-risk patients after several hospitals, including Baylor Scott and White, participated in clinical trials.