Feeling 100 Years Young After Heart Valve Replacement

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Ruth Sanford plans to celebrate her 100th birthday in style, thanks to an aortic valve replacement she received at age 95 from the heart team at the University of Miami Health System.

“Before my heart procedure, I was always short of breath,” said Ruth, a resident of Lauderhill, in a recent interview at UHealth Tower, the site of her ground-breaking procedure. “Since then, I’ve been able to go golfing and shopping again. I even danced at my granddaughter’s wedding in California.”

Five years ago, Ruth became concerned when she couldn’t walk to her mailbox without losing her breath. Her cardiologist took an angiogram that showed she needed a new aortic valve and recommended open heart surgery—a high-risk procedure for a woman in her 90s.

“My sons started looking around for other options,” Ruth said. Fortunately, she was referred to the UHealth Structural Heart Team.

Ruth qualified for a new clinical trial led by Dr. Eduardo J. de Marchena, an expert in interventional cardiology at UHealth. The Medtronic CoreValve® Continued Access Trial enabled Ruth to enroll for her heart valve implant.

“Five years ago, Ruth became one of the first people to have this percutaneous aortic valve replacement procedure at UHealth as part of the Continued Access Trial,” said Dr. de Marchena. “Her success opened the door for many other patients to enjoy a higher quality of life.”

The percutaneous valve replacement procedure is highly complex. “Our Heart Team members talk with the patient, review the status of the heart and decide if this intervention is appropriate,” Dr. de Marchena said. “We have had very good outcomes, with most recent patients going home two to three days after the procedure, which typically takes about 45 minutes.” This procedure is FDA-approved for patients with intermediate to extreme risk.

“To date, we have treated more than 150 patients at UHealth Tower as part of our IMI clinical research trials, including two who received new heart valves and are now age 100, as well as younger patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s,” said Suresh Atapattu, a biomedical engineer on the UHealth Heart Team.

Reflecting on her experience, Ruth said, “It was a great relief not to have a big incision from the surgery. When I got home, I kept looking for a scar, but I couldn’t find anything. Dr. de Marchena is a wonderful man, and I can’t wait to celebrate my 100th birthday.”