PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - February is American Heart Month -- and heart surgery isn’t what it used to be. A 78-year-old man in Phoenix can tell you that because he has a stent in his heart, and doctors never had to open his chest to put it in.
Wayne Mosbarger says he’s still about seven years away from retirement.
“I can’t sit at home. There’s just no way,” he said.
That’s why he’s still working 25 hours a week at Ace Hardware. But a heart problem that caused shortness of breath and even stiffness in his jaw for several months finally caught up with him.
“I was helping a guy load some concrete bags into a cart and I just keeled over,” he said.
Doctors told him he had a blockage in his aortic valve. He was too high-risk for open heart surgery, but he was the perfect patient for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR).
Cardiologists start by making a tiny opening – not in the chest, but in an artery in the groin area.
“We pass a small wire through the old valve inside his heart, and then the valve will be on the catheter,” Dr. Ayman Jamal said.
The whole procedure only takes about 50 minutes.
“[I] went there, met everybody, got on the operating table, they did their thing, and the next day they kicked me out. I was fine,” Mosbarger said.
Once the new valve was inside the old, partially blocked one, the catheters came out. But a little metal anchor is going to stay in Wayne’s heart for years – maybe even the rest of his life.
At Friday’s Abrazo Heart Forum, Mosbarger finally saw the kind of valve that’s inside his body.
“Golly! It’s just like a heart valve!” he said as he examined one in a jar. Mosbarger says now he has no aches, no pain and no discomfort.
“I got extra parts. I don’t know it. I can’t feel a thing,” he laughed.
Mosbarger is doing well, but he was one of the featured speakers at the forum. That, he says, is the thing that really makes his blood pressure rise.