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TAVI in Elderly Patients: Balancing Benefits and Risks

By Dr. (Prof.) Purshotam Lal Dr. Sameer Gupta in Cardiology Interventional Cardiology

Sep 14, 2023

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) has emerged as a groundbreaking treatment for aortic stenosis, offering new hope to elderly patients who may not be suitable candidates for Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR). However, the decision to undergo TAVI in elderly individuals is a complex one that involves carefully weighing the benefits and risks. In this article, we delve into the considerations surrounding TAVI in elderly patients, exploring the potential advantages and challenges.

Aortic Stenosis in the Elderly

Aortic stenosis is a common heart condition characterized by the narrowing of the aortic valve. It predominantly affects the elderly population and can lead to debilitating symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Without intervention, aortic stenosis can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and overall prognosis.

TAVI: A Less Invasive Option

TAVI represents a less invasive alternative to traditional open-heart surgery for elderly patients. This innovative procedure involves inserting a prosthetic valve through a catheter, typically delivered via the femoral artery. The benefits of TAVI for elderly patients are substantial:

  • Reduced Surgical Risk: Elderly individuals often have multiple comorbidities, making open-heart surgery riskier. TAVI significantly reduces surgical risk, including a lower likelihood of bleeding complications, strokes, and infection.
  • Improved Quality of Life: TAVI can markedly improve the quality of life for elderly patients with aortic stenosis. It alleviates symptoms, allowing individuals to engage in daily activities, exercise, and enjoy better overall well-being.
  • Faster Recovery: The minimally invasive nature of TAVI results in shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times. Elderly patients can return to their routines and regain independence sooner.
  • Suitable for Frailty: TAVI is well-suited for frail elderly patients who may not tolerate the rigors of open-heart surgery. Its less invasive approach is gentler on the patient, making it a viable option for those with limited functional status.
  • Extended Life Expectancy: TAVI has been shown to extend the life expectancy of elderly patients with aortic stenosis. It offers a chance for a longer, healthier life.
Challenges and Considerations

While TAVI offers numerous advantages for elderly patients, it’s essential to consider some potential challenges:

  • Longevity of the Valve: The prosthetic valves used in TAVI procedures have a limited lifespan, typically around 10 to 15 years. Elderly patients should discuss the possibility of future valve replacements with their healthcare providers.
  • Concomitant Health Conditions: Elderly individuals often have other health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease. Managing these conditions in conjunction with aortic stenosis is critical for successful outcomes.
  • Individualized Care: Each elderly patient is unique, and their suitability for TAVI should be assessed on an individual basis. A heart team comprising interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons should evaluate each case to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.