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St. Luke’s 500th Non-Surgery Heart Valve Replacement Patient Gets ‘Satisfaction’ – Like Mick Jagger
April 10, 2019

Elinor LaDue doesn’t sing rock ‘n roll but does have at least one thing in common with Mick Jagger, frontman for the Rolling Stones. She and Jagger both had a non-surgical heart procedure to implant an artificial aortic valve, replacing their original “native” valves.

On February 5, LaDue, an 80-year-old Allentown mother, became the 500th patient to undergo a TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) procedure at St. Luke’s Hospital, Bethlehem. TAVR is a non-surgical alternative for patients with advanced aortic stenosis or narrowing of the aortic valve opening.

Stephen Olenchock, DO, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery, and Christopher L. Sarnoski, DO, Medical Director of the Structural Heart Program, performed the procedure. Jagger reportedly had his aortic valve replaced in early April in a New York City hospital. The Rolling Stones postponed their touring until Jagger has recovered from his treatment.

TAVR is a fairly new procedure in which an artificial valve is fitted onto a catheter and inserted into the patient’s groin artery, then moved into the aorta and opened inside of the patient’s own failing valve. This is often caused by aortic stenosis, the buildup of calcium on the valve that narrows it and restricts the blood flow out of the heart to the brain and rest of the body. As the stenosis worsens, a person may experience lightheadedness, fainting, chest pain, irregular heartbeats, stroke and cardiac arrest; severe aortic stenosis can be life-threatening.

For some patients, advanced age or medical complications prohibit them from undergoing open-heart surgery, making the less-invasive TAVR a safe and effective option. Research shows that TAVR is superior to conventional aortic value surgery: better survival, fewer complications and greater patient satisfaction.

“This procedure offers patients with an otherwise poor prognosis a better quality of life,” says St. Luke’s Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine, Raymond Durkin, M.D. “In fact, our very first TAVR patient from 2012 is now 94-years-old and doing well.

Mrs. LaDue spent two nights in the hospital following her procedure and missed just one trip to the Sands Casino, her favorite weekly pastime. If her valve had been replaced with a conventional open-heart approach, her stay in the hospital might have been much longer, and recovery likely would have taken weeks, maybe months.

She is grateful that her new valve was implanted at St. Luke’s. She is singing the praises of her heart doctors and all the St. Luke’s staff who took care of her during her short stay there back in February. Hopefully Mick Jagger’s experience was just as good as hers at St. Luke’s.

“I was really impressed with everyone there,” she says. “They all were friendly, considerate and polite.” She resumed her trips to play the slots every Thursday just the week after she received her new heart valve.