Dan Hogan, 84, is a retired contractor who split 10 cords of wood every year to heat the rural home he shares with his wife, Marna. When it comes to strength, he believes you’ve got to use it or lose it. Then he started feeling short of breath. “It got to where I could barely walk from the couch to the door,” he recalls.
So the couple headed to San Francisco to get Dan checked out. Right away, the pulmonologist could hear that Dan had a narrowing in the aortic valve of his heart – aortic stenosis – that prevented enough blood from entering his main artery. Dan was older than recommended for open-heart surgery, in which the surgeon has to cut the patient’s breastbone to open the chest. Yet without treatment, he would be disabled and limited for the rest of his life.
David Daniels, M.D., a cardiologist who specializes in the ground-breaking procedure known as TAVR, gathered his team at CPMC to talk with Dan and Marna. Using transcatheter aortic valve replacement, Dr. Daniels said they could put a catheter up his artery and insert a replacement valve into his body’s own aortic valve – much like stents are inserted into blocked arteries. Dan would be discharged from the hospital the next day.
“The most amazing thing was how his whole team came into the room to explain everything to me. They answered all of my concerns and questions,” Dan says. “I really felt at ease.”
On a Friday, Dan had the TAVR procedure under sedation but not under general anesthesia, which can be risky for older adults. The next day, he left the hospital. They stayed in the city a couple of weeks so Dr. Daniels could monitor his new valve. When it came time for his first follow-up appointment, he and Marna walked six blocks uphill on Clay Street to CPMC.
“I can’t say enough about the procedure. I felt completely better the very next day,” Dan recalls. He and Marna will return every few months to check in with Anna Beyer, M.D., his new cardiologist. It’s worth the five-hour trip, he says.
“It’s a whole new life,” Dan says. “One week you can barely walk to the front door, and the next you can walk six blocks up a San Francisco hill! It was a marvelous experience all the way through. And I’m already splitting wood for next winter.”