Vicki Rankin Find a Location Find a Doctor Heart & Vascular Arrhythmia Center Diagnostic Testing Treatments/Procedures Cardiology Minimally Invasive Procedures Heart Attack Care Clinical Research Diagnostic Services Heart Surgery Other Services Cardiac Rehab Heart Failure Center Patient Success Stories Prevention & Wellness AHA Training Center CardioVascular Mobile Health Unit Hands-only CPR Healing Hearts Women's Support Group Heart Healthy Lifestyle Tips My Heart Rocks Take Time For Your Heart Women and Heart Disease Tobacco Cessation Freshstart Tobacco Cessation E-cigarette Education Success Stories Tobacco Cessation Resources Valve Center Treatments Your Hospital Stay Care After Heart Surgery Intensive Care for Heart Conditions Nurses with Heart Care Expertise Partners in Heart Care Transitional Care Units Patient Benefits From Newest Option for Heart Valve Replacement Vicki Rankin, 66, was having trouble breathing. She thought it was asthma. Her primary care physician, Dr. Tyler Browning, a family medicine specialist with St. Elizabeth Physicians, wasn’t so sure. So in addition to having her breathing tested, he also had her get an echocardiogram, a test that can help diagnose heart problems. That test showed a faulty heart valve, known as aortic stenosis, which meant her heart was not working effectively to get oxygenated blood to her body. That’s what was causing her shortness of breath. “He sent me to Dr. (Saeb) Khoury, a heart valve specialist,” Vicki notes. Dr. Khoury is a cardiologist with St. Elizabeth Physicians and the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute. He is also co-director of the Valve Center at St. Elizabeth, where physicians are performing a new valve replacement procedure called TAVR, which stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement. “He talked to me about my treatment options, such as open heart surgery.” Vicki had heart bypass surgery years earlier, and wasn’t thrilled with the idea of open heart surgery again. Then Dr. Khoury explained this new procedure, TAVR, where physicians replace a valve by entering the heart through a leg artery. No open heart surgery. Easier on the body. Shorter recovery. She said she was interested, and after a few weeks, was approved for the procedure. Her procedure was scheduled for several weeks later. “I kept getting worse and worse. I could only walk a couple of steps, then I would have to sit down. It would take me about five minutes to catch my breath.” Finally the day of the procedure came. The procedure was completed by an interdisciplinary team including cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, a radiologist and supporting staff from surgery and the catheterization lab. “I went in on a Thursday morning, and was out of the hospital Saturday afternoon. When I woke up, I had no pain at all. I could breathe normally. I could get up and walk,” she exudes. “The nurses (in the heart surgery recovery unit) didn’t know what to do with me. They are used to patients who are in pain after surgery!” Just two weeks after her procedure, Vicki says, “I can do just about anything, I can walk, I can go shopping. I can breathe. Breathing is great,” she adds, chuckling. “I’ve been out – to the grocery store, shopping, to dinner.” In the weeks before the procedure she could do “absolutely nothing. I couldn’t go out of the house.” Vicki’s advice: “Get it checked out, if there is any question at all!” Vicki praises the teamwork she sees among the St. Elizabeth doctors. “I had lots of doctors from St. Elizabeth, they worked well together. When I’m talking to my doctors, they know what the other doctors did. The information appears on their computer screens, so they are aware of things. That makes a difference. If they were doctors from another system, they might not have all that information.” Vicki’s daughter Dawn Baker has high praise for how she and her mother were treated at St. Elizabeth. “We couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Everyone was so conscientious of my worries. They were helpful, they kept me informed. It was wonderful.” Learn More About TAVR TAVR is a treatment for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not candidates for traditional valve surgery. It offers an option for patients who otherwise would have limited life expectancies without treatment. For more information about treatment options for heart valve problems, including the TAVR procedure, call the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute Valve Center at (859) 301-8287 (TAVR).