Connecticut Post (Sunday)

This minimally invasive technique can save your life

- Dr. David Lorenz, MD

New Year’s Eve. A night of celebratio­n, revelry, and hope for the future. The very last night anyone would want to spend in the emergency room. But for Colleen Finch, being in the emergency room is the reason she has a future to celebrate. “It’s the last place anybody wants to be on a holiday, then you throw in that this was last year with COVID and everything. And I was totally unaware. I just went in for a basic test and ended up having to have surgery.” Finch had been experienci­ng shortness of breath, years after receiving a replacemen­t heart valve through open heart surgery. After a few routine tests, they transferre­d her to St. Vincent’s Medical Center, where her interventi­onal cardiologi­st Dr. David Lorenz was waiting. “She was hospitaliz­ed with fluid on the lungs,” Lorenz said. “We transferre­d her; we knew she wasn’t stable. She deteriorat­ed so fast that she had to have a tube. We realized if we didn’t do the procedure right then, she was going to die.” So on New Year’s Eve, a primary team of eight medical profession­als, with a secondary team of cardiac surgeons at the ready, set to work replacing Finch’s faulty valve. Only this time, they didn’t have to crack her sternum for invasive open-heart surgery. This time, they were able to insert the valve through a blood vessel in her leg and transport it to the heart where it replaced the faulty valve while the heart still beats. It’s called a transcathe­ter aortic valve replacemen­t, or TAVR. “We use an X-ray machine that wraps around the body, and we replace the valve while the heart is still beating,” Lorenz said. “The valve is either crunched down on a balloon or it is compressed inside a straw-like device, and then it expands. We use the old valve as the anchoring mechanism for the new valve.” This minimally invasive technique saved Finch’s life. “She was basically nearly dead, and we discharged her a few days later,” he said. “It was a dramatic example of how people can turn a corner like that. Her husband, when I called him, thought I was calling him to tell him she didn’t make it.” The procedure has been a godsend for Finch in the following months, as well. After her open-heart surgery years before, she had a lot of upper back pain that persisted for months. She couldn’t lift anything more than 10 pounds and had to be very careful how she moved. “Going through the artery and the groin was much easier. It was a little tender the first two days, but it did not hurt like the first time around.” The biggest difference has been her breathing. By the end of December, Finch could only walk a few steps without stopping to catch her breath. “To get to the doors of a building, I’d have to stop two or three times from where I parked the car. In long hallways, I stopped three or four times,” Finch said. “It was to the point where I was stopping and waiting for 3-5 minutes just to catch my breath.” At only 61 now, Finch had her first valve replacemen­t at just 53. While most people have three leaflets in their aortic valve, which open to allow blood in and out, Finch was born with only two. This put more pressure on her heart at a younger age. “This case exemplifie­s what is so fascinatin­g about cardiology,” he said. “Unlike a lot of ICU patients who are sick for a long time, you can take someone in cardiology who is seriously ill, do a procedure, and they turn the corner dramatical­ly. I love the technology; I love the ability to continuous­ly deliver less invasive techniques.” He says Hartford HealthCare’s investment in St. Vincent’s Medical Center has allowed experts like him to provide what he considers to be the best cardiac care in the state. Finch has been living symptom-free with her new valve since January. And in terms of her resolution­s? She’s working on diet, exercise and lifestyle choices that will keep her healthy for years to come. This year, she plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve — without the aid of any doctors. This is just one example of Hartford HealthCare’s commitment to access and expertise —bringing more specialist­s and providers to the community. Tune into Hartford HealthCare St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s Facebook Live discussion, where you can ask your questions, Thursday, October 28 at 12pm. And for more informatio­n, visit or call 745.210.5409.

 ?? ?? Dr. Robert Jumper, MD and Dr. David Lorenz, MD in the Cath Lab
Dr. Robert Jumper, MD and Dr. David Lorenz, MD in the Cath Lab
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