New Ascension Seton Heart Institute Valve Clinic Eliminates Need to Travel for Treatment



AUSTIN, Texas – (June 19, 2014) – Austin resident Bettye Porter needed a life-saving procedure to treat her heart valve disease that was causing severe shortness of breath. Her husband of 63 years now suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and she needs to be healthy and by his side.

As a result, Porter became the first patient at the new Heart Valve Clinic at Ascension Seton Heart Institute to undergo a newer, more minimally invasive procedure that saved her life.

Experts at the new clinic treat conditions such as leaky heart valves and heart murmurs. Each patient can work closely with a multi-disciplinary medical team that includes heart surgeons and cardiologists to get a comprehensive assessment of potential treatments. The clinic is located in the Ascension Seton Heart Insititute in Medical Park Tower, 1301 W. 38th Street, Suite 400.

“Essentially, it’s a one-stop shop for patients with valvular heart disease, eliminating the need for multiple visits to multiple specialists,” Dr. Mark Pirwitz, president and chief executive officer, said. “Ascension Seton Heart Institute’s valve clinic offers the latest, minimally-invasive treatments for valve conditions, which means Central Texans no longer have to travel to other cities to get state-of-the-art quality of care.”

Bettye’s Innovative Valve Procedure

Bettye Porter underwent a procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, or TAVR, which offers many benefits for heart patients with critical aortic stenosis, or severe narrowing of a heart valve. Porter, like many other heart valve patients, needed an invasive aortic valve replacement, but was not a candidate for traditional “open heart” surgery.

A TAVR procedure places a new aortic valve into the heart via a catheter inserted through an incision in the groin area. Surgeons guide it up to the heart through the circulatory system.

“The average hospital stay is two to three days,” said Dr. Tuan Nguyen, Ascension Seton Heart Institute cardiologist. “This new treatment method can offer a much shorter recovery time – one to two weeks, versus six to eight weeks with the traditional sternotomy, or open heart surgery.”

Porter is one of two Central Texas patients who successfully underwent TAVR procedures at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin in the past month. See animation of a TAVR procedure.

MitraClip® Study for Leaky Valves

Ascension Seton valve clinic is the first site in Central Texas to participate in a groundbreaking study of the potential benefits of MitraClip®, a catheter-based, less invasive treatment option that can help patients with leaky heart valves.

An estimated 4 million Americans suffer from a condition called mitral valve regurgitation, which stems from a leaky valve that allows blood to flow backward in the heart. It is a progressive disease that damages the cardiac muscle and can cause stroke and heart failure.

For some patients, the surgical risk is very high.

“As cardiologists, we see patients who are simply too fragile for traditional mitral regurgitation surgery,” Pirwitz said. “The Valve Clinic at Ascension Seton Heart Institute is excited to offer MitraClip, which can potentially offer a less risky treatment for this life-threatening condition.”

The device is delivered into the heart through the femoral vein, a blood vessel in the leg. Once implanted, it allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently, thereby relieving symptoms and improving a patient’s quality of life. Patients undergoing MitraClip therapy typically experience short recovery times and are back on their feet faster. See animation of the MitraClip procedure.

Ascension Seton Heart Institute has begun enrolling patients for the trial. For more information, visit