St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation

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SJH Heart Institute Celebrates Heart Procedure Milestone

On Feb. 28, George Brooks returned to the St. Joseph’s Hospital Heart Institute, not for another cardiac procedure, but to celebrate with the team who saved his life. During American Heart Month, the cardiac team reached a milestone: the completion of its 500th structural heart procedure, a first in Hillsborough County.
Structural heart disease refers to defects in the heart’s valves, wall or chambers, such as atrial septal defect, aortic stenosis and mitral valve prolapse (regurgitation). While open-heart surgery is one treatment method for these conditions, minimally invasive procedures—such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), transcatheter mitral valve
repair (MitraClip) and Watchman device implantation for atrial fibrillation, among others—have now been found to be safest for patients who are considered high risk.
“I get regular physicals, and when I saw my primary care physician last year he said that my heart was working too hard,” George recalled. He was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis, which causes chest pain, fainting,
fatigue, leg swelling and shortness of breath. It may also lead to heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
Luckily around that same time, George’s daughter, Carol Cromer, attended SJH’s Tampa in Scrubs event, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the hospital and its services. During a presentation about TAVR by Phillips Harrington, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Heart Institute, she realized that he was explaining a procedure that would be ideal for her father.
“We knew that open-heart surgery would not be the right choice for my father,” Carol explained. “But after hearing Dr. Harrington’s explanation of TAVR and discussing it together with the team of cardiac specialists, we scheduled the procedure at the Heart Institute.”
Within two weeks of the procedure, Brooks was completely healed, with no pain or discomfort.
“Mr. Brooks’ case is a great example of who these procedures are intended for: those who are high risk and would not be a good candidate for open-heart surgery,” Dr. Harrington said. “Within two weeks of the procedure, these patients are living life to the fullest, compared to a six- to eight-week recovery time for open-heart surgery.”

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