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Learning About Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI)

Normal aortic valve and a valve with stenosis.

What is TAVI?

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a procedure to implant a replacement aortic valve in the heart. It is also called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). It is done to treat aortic valve stenosis. In aortic valve stenosis, the valve between your heart and the large blood vessel that carries blood to the body (aorta) has narrowed. That forces the heart to pump harder to get enough blood through the valve. TAVI can help some people feel better and live longer.

In TAVI, the doctor uses a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to put in the new heart valve. TAVI is not an open-heart surgery.

How is TAVI done?

TAVI is typically done through an incision (cut) in the groin. But sometimes a small cut is made in the chest. The doctor uses a tube called a catheter and special tools that fit inside the catheter. The doctor puts the catheter into a blood vessel and moves it through the blood vessel and into the heart. A specially designed replacement valve fits inside the catheter. This valve is made of tissue and metal. The doctor then moves the new valve into the damaged aortic valve. The new valve expands and works as your new aortic valve.

You may be asleep for the procedure. Or you may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. You won't feel pain when the catheter is put in the blood vessel. You may stay in the hospital for up to a few days after the procedure.

What can you expect after TAVI?

  • While you are in the hospital, your doctors and nurses will monitor you to check how the new valve is working.
  • You will receive information from the hospital about diet, activities, and medicine.
  • You will need to have regular checkups with your doctor.
  • Your doctor may suggest that you attend a cardiac rehab program. In cardiac rehab, a team of health professionals provides education and support to help you recover and prevent problems with your heart. Ask your doctor if rehab is right for you.
  • You may take aspirin or some other blood thinner to prevent blood clots. If you get a blood thinner, be sure you get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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