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Beebe Healthcare Has Launched the First TAVR Program in Sussex County

Beebe's TAVR group


Leadership at Beebe Healthcare has announced the successful implementation of Sussex County’s first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program. 

This latest component of Beebe Healthcare’s Cardiovascular Services now provides a highly therapeutic treatment option for patients with symptomatic aortic stenosis who are seeking an alternative to open heart surgery. 

Beebe’s Cardiovascular team, led by interventional cardiologists Mouhanad Freih, MD, and Ehtasham Qureshi, MD; cardiac surgeon Ted Stephenson, MD; cardiologist Armin Barekatain, MD; and anesthesiologist Jillian Dashiell, MD, have performed over 10 minimally invasive TAVR procedures since the inception. All of the patients had their heart valve replaced and went home the next day. 

“We celebrate this significant milestone in our persistent pursuit of excellence,” said Mary Frances Suter, DNP, Executive Director of Beebe Cardiovascular Services. “By offering this leading-edge technological procedure, it is yet another example of our commitment to providing our patients the highest level of quality, safety, and service.” 

Patients with aortic stenosis benefit from the TAVR procedure. Aortic stenosis is a build-up of calcium deposits on the last door in your heart known as the aortic valve. This causes the opening to narrow and reduce the blood flow to the rest of your body. Over time, if your valve doesn’t fully open, your heart must work harder to push blood through to your body. This narrowing can lead to debilitating symptoms such as shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue, and shortened lifespan. 

“Aortic stenosis can interfere with daily activities as basic as walking,” said Dr. Freih, interventional cardiologist affiliated with Beebe and Chief of Cardiology at Beebe. “It is very exciting to offer a minimally invasive procedure that can provide a solution for patients with aortic stenosis. TAVR can lengthen and greatly improve the quality of a patient’s life. Getting a patient back to enjoying life is our ultimate goal.”


“Treatment for aortic stenosis depends on how far your disease has progressed,” said Dr. Qureshi, interventional cardiologist affiliated with Beebe and Chair of Interventional Cardiology at Beebe. “If your stenosis is mild, medications may be prescribed. However, with time and progression, the only effective treatment is to replace your aortic valve.” 

During the TAVR procedure, an artificial valve is implanted through a catheter, which is inserted through a large artery in the patient’s leg, eliminating the need for open-heart surgery and use of a heart lung machine.

“We are excited that Beebe now offers two options to intervene upon a diseased aortic valve,” said Dr. Stephenson, cardiac surgeon with Beebe Cardiothoracic Surgery. “The traditional open-heart surgery to replace the aortic valve (SVAR) and now, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure.” 

Previously, TAVR was used only if a patient was considered inoperable or high-risk for a traditional valve replacement or open-heart surgery, but the procedure has received approval for low- to intermediate-risk patients. TAVR also can be used to replace failing tissue aortic valves, eliminating the need for those patients to have a second open-heart surgery. 

If you have a valve condition, discuss it with your cardiologist as you might be a candidate for the TAVR procedure. 

NOTE: This photo was taken in early March, prior to COVID-19 restrictions and mask requirements.