At 101, Patient is Nation's Oldest Transcatheter Heart Valve Replacement

Oldest patient on record undergoes transapical aortic valve replacement

Aug 27, 2010, 08:49 ET from Northwestern Memorial Hospital

CHICAGO, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- When Doris Snyder celebrated her 102nd birthday on August 10, she was that much closer to the expected birth of her first great-granddaughter who's due to arrive early September. She is very excited about the milestone, which might not have been possible were it not for a cutting-edge, experimental procedure that replaced one of Doris' heart valves weeks earlier when she was 101. The valve had been rendered useless by aortic valve stenosis—hardening from calcium deposits that restrict the flow of blood from the heart.

"This procedure could be a major breakthrough for these patients, as they're generally told that nothing can be done for them," said Patrick M. McCarthy, MD, chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery for Northwestern Memorial Hospital and director of the hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and the Heller-Sacks professor of Surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

McCarthy is a co-principal investigator for the clinical trial that provided Doris' new heart valve, which is formally referred to as the Placement of AoRtic TraNscathetER Valve, or PARTNER. The Bluhm Institute is among the trial's pioneering sites. The technique is being evaluated as a course of therapy for patients who are considered too weak to undergo conventional open-heart surgery. It uses expandable-stenting technology to insert a prosthetic valve while the heart continues beating, eliminating the need for cardiopulmonary bypass and its associated risks.

"Patients who are too weak to be surgically treated have very limited options for valve replacement," said Charles J. Davidson, who is also a co-principal investigator for the trial and a professor of Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Davidson says the procedure builds upon the balloon aortic valvuloplasty, but is a "more durable treatment."

Spry and amazingly keen, Doris had never encountered any major health issues. Moreover, the avid reader who's kept a diary for more than 60 years is usually game to tackle most things that come her way—but open-heart surgery was not one of them. S. Chris Malaisrie, MD, a Northwestern Memorial cardiac surgeon and member of the site team evaluating this new procedure, said she wouldn't survive it.  

"Doris exemplifies the fact that your state of health is not necessarily defined by your age," said Malaisrie. "She's healthier than a lot of people much younger than her."  

Drs. McCarthy and Malaisrie are paid consultants of Edwards LifeSciences, makers of the experimental prosthetic valve.

About Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Northwestern Memorial is one of the country's premier academic medical center hospitals and is the primary teaching hospital of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.  Along with its Prentice Women's Hospital and Stone Institute of Psychiatry, the hospital comprises 854 beds, 1,603 affiliated physicians and 7,144 employees.  Northwestern Memorial is recognized for providing exemplary patient care and state-of-the art advancements in the areas of cardiovascular care; women's health; oncology; neurology and neurosurgery; solid organ and soft tissue transplants and orthopaedics.

Northwestern Memorial possesses nursing Magnet Status, the nation's highest recognition for patient care and nursing excellence, and it is listed in 12 clinical specialties in U.S. News & World Report's 2010 "America's Best Hospitals" guide. For 10 years running, it has been rated among the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" guide by Working Mother magazine. The hospital is a recipient of the prestigious National Quality Health Care Award and has been chosen by Chicagoans as the Consumer Choice according to the National Research Corporation's annual survey for 11 years.  

SOURCE Northwestern Memorial Hospital