Baptist Heart Hospital uses newest technology for heart valve replacement surgery

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Cardiologists at Baptist Heart Specialists in collaboration with cardiothoracic surgeons at Baptist Heart Hospital now offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

People who are at risk and considered poor surgical candidates for open heart surgery now have a new option when it comes to replacing heart valves.

Cardiologists at Baptist Heart Specialists in collaboration with cardiothoracic surgeons at Baptist Heart Hospital now offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive surgical procedure that replaces the valve without removing the old, damaged one.

Baptist Heart Hospital, located at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, is the first in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia using the newer CoreValve® by Medtronic, which is easier to deploy and has an advanced design.

Similar to a stent, a replacement valve is delivered to the valve site through the femoral artery in the leg. The procedure involves a cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon.

TAVR is designed for people with symptomatic aortic stenosis who are high risk and considered poor surgical candidates for open-heart surgery because of age, COPD or other factors. But the criteria is becoming less restrictive and may include people who are considered to have intermediate risk for traditional surgery, according to C. David Hassel, MD, chief of cardiology for Baptist Jacksonville.

“Recovery time is a lot shorter because TAVR is less invasive,” Dr. Hassel said. “TAVR is making Baptist Heart Hospital even more comprehensive in providing patients with a complete line of cardiac care.”

Unlike traditional open surgery, patients have no surgical incision on their chest and don’t face the potential wound complications of open-heart surgery.

“This is one of the biggest breakthroughs to happen in cardiac care in the last 10 years. With the population living longer, more people will be eligible as time goes on,” added cardiologist Salvatore DiLoreto, MD, of Baptist Heart Specialists.

Severe aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve doesn’t open properly, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. To be a candidate for TAVR, a patient will be evaluated on whether he or she is high risk for open heart surgery by cardiothoracic surgeons Don Cousar, MD, chief of staff-elect for Baptist Jacksonville, and Robert Still, MD, who collaborate with the cardiologists during the surgery. Samuel Velez, MD, is also a member of the team as the cardiac anesthesiologist and Stephanie Hembach, ARNP, is the TAVR coordinator.

“We can do this procedure and extend the patient’s quality of life and make them feel better,” said Baptist Heart cardiologist Marc Litt, MD. “People who we wouldn’t normally operate on because they are high risk will have more of a choice.”

Dr. Cousar added that TAVR is ideal for elderly patients who are too sick for traditional surgery.

For more information on TAVR, call the patient coordinator at 904.202.9500.


About Baptist Health
Baptist Health is a faith-based, mission-driven system in Northeast Florida comprised of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; Baptist Clay Medical Campus and Wolfson Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. All Baptist Health hospitals, along with Baptist Home Health Care, have achieved Magnet™ status for excellence in patient care. Baptist Health includes the area’s only dedicated heart hospital; cancer centers; orthopedic institute; women’s services; neurological institute, including comprehensive neurosurgical services, a comprehensive stroke center and two primary stroke centers; a Bariatric Center of Excellence; a full range of psychology and psychiatry services; outpatient facilities; urgent care services; and primary and specialty care physicians’ offices throughout Northeast Florida. For more details, visit For information on Wolfson Children’s Hospital, visit

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Deborah Circelli
Baptist Health
+1 (904) 202-4916
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