Centre performs 1,000th transcatheter heart valve procedure

VANCOUVER, June 5, 2014 – This morning, St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH) broadcast a live transcatheter aortic valve implantation – on an awake patient (not under general anesthesia) – to the Transcatheter Valve Therapies Conference taking place June 5-7, 2014 at The Westin Bayshore. The patient was the 1,000th transcatheter heart valve (THV) procedure by the Centre for Heart Valve Innovation at SPH.

The Centre for Heart Valve Innovation at St. Paul’s is recognized internationally as a pioneer of innovative, minimally invasive heart valve replacement procedures that provide an alternative for patients who are at higher risk for open-heart surgery,” said Dr. John Webb, Director of Interventional Cardiology at SPH. “By performing this surgery on patients that are awake, we can reduce the stress and risks of surgery, improve results and avoid complications, and allow patients to return home sooner.”

THV procedures involve inserting a thin tube with a replacement valve into the body through a small incision, then directing it to the heart through an artery. It can be done by making a small hole in the leg or the chest wall. Dr. Webb was the first to successfully perform a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) through an artery in 2005, which involves inserting a new valve from a small puncture in the leg.

Gisela Wegner, an 87-year old from West Vancouver, was the 1,000th patient. She used to exercise regularly but her condition deteriorated dramatically. Without this procedure, doctors expected her lifespan to be shortened considerably.

Now I can sit in my leather chair and be perfectly happy, but the moment I get up or bend over to do something I immediately get very severe chest and back pains,” Wegner said prior to surgery. “I’m totally sedentary, walking with a walker. If I can walk a hundred meters without having severe chest pains I’m lucky.”

In just nine years, St. Paul’s Hospital has grown from a trailblazer in TAVI procedures to the home of the Centre for Heart Valve Innovation,” said Dianne Doyle, President and CEO of Providence Health Care. “This milestone is evidence of the deep commitment of our caregivers and researchers, who have put the needs of patients first and dared to push the boundaries and find new solutions.”

Only patients who are at high risk for surgery are considered for THV procedures. The Centre for Heart Valve Innovation is now performing half of its THV procedures on patients that are awake.

In addition to TAVI, the Centre for Heart Valve Innovation also performs other transcatheter procedures for people with valve disease, including percutaneous mitral valve repair (“MitraClip”). Dr. Webb is recognized internationally as a leader in these procedures, having the broadest experience in the world and having taught these techniques to healthcare professionals in more than 25 countries.

The Vancouver program is a partnership between St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital. Sites of the provincial THV program also include Royal Columbian and Royal Jubilee Hospitals.

Providence Health Care (PHC) is one of Canada's largest faith-based health care organizations, operating 16 health care facilities in Greater Vancouver. PHC operates one of two adult academic health science centres in the province – St. Paul’s Hospital – performs cutting-edge research in more than 30 clinical specialties, and focuses its services on six “populations of emphasis”: cardio-pulmonary risks and illnesses, HIV/AIDS, mental health, renal risks and illness, specialized needs in aging and urban health and is home to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. www.providencehealthcare.org.

For more information:

Dave Lefebvre
Senior Communications Specialist – Media Relations
Providence Health Care
Tel:  604-682-2344 extension 66987
Cell: 604-837-6003 (c)