News

New Non-Surgery Heart Valve
September 28, 2020

Luis Delarosa enjoys doing physically demanding outdoors projects at home in Slatington, sometimes working from sunrise to sunset in the fresh air. Having been a landscaper for his entire adult life, the 76-year-old Slatington man figured the fatigue and shortness of breath came with his age and work, which he continues in retirement.

So, when his doctors said his aortic valve was failing, he put off having it treated as long as possible.

His doctors told him a buildup of calcium on his valve was preventing it from opening and closing efficiently, and he needed to have it replaced before serious complications might arise.  The aortic valve is the gateway of blood between the heart and the rest of the body. Blood leaving the heart through the valve feeds supplies nutrients and oxygen to the brain and other organs. A damaged or diseased valve reduces this flow. 

Earlier this year, St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine Raymond Durkin, MD, and Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery Stephen Olenchock, DO, inserted a newly FDA approved Sapien 3 ULTRA aortic valve into Delarosa’s original diseased valve using a catheter introduced through a small incision in his groin. This was the first time the Sapien 3 ULTRA transcatheter aortic valve was used in the Greater Lehigh Valley region. 

The Sapien 3 ULTRA valve was approved in by the FDA in 2019 for treating patients with severe aortic stenosis who, like Luis, are at a low risk for complications from open surgery. This newly designed valve from Edwards Lifesciences is easier and quicker to implant and made of newer, stronger materials.

In the PARTNER 3 clinical research trial, which preceded FDA approval, the Sapien 3 ULTRA valve was associated with lower death and stroke rates than conventional aortic valves implanted using open- heart surgery. Patients receiving the catheter-based valve are often able to leave the hospital sooner and experience a higher quality of life than those undergoing surgery.

“The Sapien 3 ULTRA aortic valve, with its excellent safety profile and improved design, expands the therapy options for persons having severe aortic stenosis but who desire non-surgical valve replacement,” says Dr. Olenchock.  

Delarosa was out of the hospital the next day and back on his feet in no time and with nearly no pain. Now he’s enjoying the late-summer weather, keeping busy outside on his home projects. And thanks to his new aortic valve and his restored youthful energy, he’s sure he’ll find other chores to keep him on the move and out in the fresh air.