At age 90, Bob Taylor of Midland is proof you’re never too old to be a trail blazer. Taylor was the first patient to undergo a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. The procedure, which is less invasive than traditional heart valve replacement surgery, involves using a catheter to insert an artificial aortic valve through an artery in the neck, legs or between the ribs, and placing it inside the patient’s diseased heart valve while the heart is still beating.
Taylor said his heart issues go back to the 1990s; he had coronary bypass surgery in 1992. Through the years, he has also had several stents implanted. In 2013, Taylor underwent cardiac ablation to treat atrial fibrillation.
For the most part, Taylor was happy and healthy, until symptoms such as shortness of breath prompted his cardiologist, Interventional Cardiologist Maged Rizk, M.D., Ph.D., to order an echocardiogram. The results showed that Taylor’s aortic valve was failing.
While Taylor was otherwise healthy, his age was a limiting factor when considering surgery. “They did not want to do open heart surgery on a man my age,” he said. Traditional open heart surgery involves longer incisions and is harder on the body overall.
Fortunately for Taylor, TAVR was available as an alternative to open heart surgery. Because it is minimally invasive, patients usually heal more quickly. On the other hand, TAVR is not appropriate for every patient. It is a more complex procedure, carries its own set of risks and requires the involvement of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists representing the areas of interventional cardiology, advanced cardiac imaging and cardiothoracic surgery.
While TAVR is not suitable for all patients, this alternative approach to traditional surgery provides hope to patients like Taylor. It has been proven to consistently lengthen a patient’s life, as well as improve their quality of life.
Taylor had the surgery on July 19, 2016. “It went very well,” he said. “I was home within two days. My recovery went extremely well, too.”
He started cardiac rehabilitation in December 2016. “I went three times a week, and it does work,” Taylor said. He and his wife, Gladys, also exercise by walking at the mall several times a week. It helps them stay in shape so that they can attend birthday parties for their 26 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Months after his surgery, Taylor said that other than a bit of arthritis and some hearing loss, his health is good. “At 91, I’m fortunate that I can do just about everything I want to do,” he said. “Life is worthwhile and I’m glad I had the procedure done. I’m looking forward to more good years ahead.”
MidMichigan Health offers a full array of heart and vascular services, including open heart surgery, advanced vascular surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. Those who would like additional information on MidMichigan’s comprehensive cardiovascular team may visit www.midmichigan.org/heart.