Clear Lake
April 10, 2019

April 9, 2019 (Houston) – HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, formerly Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, now offers transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). One of the first hospitals in the Bay Area to provide the minimally-invasive alternative to open heart surgery, the heart hospital at HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake successfully completed three TAVR procedures on its first day.  

A relatively new procedure, TAVR replaces damaged aortic valves through a catheter in contrast to open-heart surgery in which surgeons cut open the chest to expose the heart. Typically, candidates for TAVR suffer from aortic stenosis, a common but serious valve problem in which the aortic valve opening narrows, dangerously restricting blood flow and affecting pressure in the heart.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TAVR in 2012 for patients who are considered at high risk for open-heart surgery. In 2016, the FDA approved the procedure for patients at intermediate risk. Later this year, experts expect the agency to expand its approval to low-risk patients, which will dramatically increase the number of patients who qualify for TAVR.

According to Dr. Hannan Chaugle, one of the surgeons who performed the first TAVR procedures at HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, this new rule will do much to raise awareness of the procedure. Already, Rolling Stones rocker Mick Jagger helped highlight the benefits of TAVR over open-heart surgery after completing the procedure for his heart valve disease last week. 

“One of the most significant benefits of TAVR is that it doesn’t utilize a bypass machine, which takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery and comes with inherent risks,” explained Dr. Chaugle. “Since surgeons go through the groin instead of the chest, recovery time from TAVR is also often much faster – one to two days instead of three to five.” 

The FDA imposes strict requirements for hospitals wishing to practice TAVR, including successfully completing a certain number of open heart, surgical aortic valve, catheter, and percutaneous coronary interventions per year. The heart hospital at HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, the only dedicated heart hospital in the Bay Area, performs more than 1,000 heart procedures annually.

HCA Houston Healthcare hired TAVR expert Dr. Pranav Loyalka as its medical director of structural heart disease, transplant and mechanical circulatory support in September 2018. Loyalka explained TAVR is a “team effort,” requiring two pairs of hands– one to position the new valve and one to inflate the balloon that expands the new valve into position and moves the old valve out of the way.  

“It’s awesome,” Dr. Loyalka said, summarizing HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake’s innovative new offering. “Historically, this procedure has been offered only in the Medical Center and in Southwest Houston – to be one of the first facilities to bring it to the Bay Area community is very significant, particularly as the patients eligible for the procedure is set to expand this year.”  

Surgeons Chaugle and Loyalka worked with a team of cardiologists to successfully perform HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake’s first three TAVR procedures on Tuesday.

“Today’s procedures went very well,” said Todd Caliva, CEO of HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake. “We look forward to continuing to grow this service, and are proud of this milestone in offering increasingly complex care to the Bay Area community.”