As the oldest of 10 siblings, 93-year-old Vivian Corona is accustomed to taking care of others. She grew up caring for her younger siblings and then when she married, she took care of her husband and daughter, Toni Kasper.
Soon after Vivian moved to Austin to be close to her daughter, her heart problems worsened. She could barely move through the house without being out of breath.
A trip to the emergency room and thorough diagnostic testing at Ascension Seton Medical Center revealed severe aortic stenosis, a condition that occurs when the heart’s aortic valve narrows. This narrowing was preventing Vivian’s valve from fully opening, which stops blood flow from her heart into her aorta and onward to the rest of her body.
This was causing Vivian’s heart to work harder to pump blood to her body. Traditional treatment for such a life-threatening condition involves open-heart surgery with a large incision in the chest. Unfortunately, that was not an option for Vivian because of her fragile state.
“Doctors told us that if my mom wasn’t treated for her condition, she only had about six months to live,” explained Toni, Vivian’s daughter. “We knew she wanted to live out her remaining years to the best of her abilities, but we also knew she wouldn’t survive traditional surgery.”
Fortunately, a newer, innovative heart procedure known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, was presented to Vivian as an option.
“TAVR replaces the heart’s disease aortic valve using a catheter, which is inserted through a small incision in the groin,” explained Dr. Mark Pirwitz, Ascension Seton Heart Institute president and chief executive officer. “This newer procedure can offer a much shorter recovery time — one to two weeks, versus six to eight weeks with the traditional sternotomy, or open heart surgery.”
Vivian’s family saw improvements soon after her procedure.
“My mom’s zest for life is back. You can see it in her face and in her attitude,” said Toni. “We’re so grateful to the physicians at Ascension Seton for offering this life-saving procedure to my mother and giving her a second chance.”
Ascension Seton Heart Valve Clinic’s multi-disciplinary team includes interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiovascular imaging specialists, and a nurse coordinator who work together to develop the best treatment plan. The team is also available to evaluate other valve issues including mitral valve and tricuspid valve disorders.
Click here for more information about the Ascension Seton Heart Valve Clinic.