Advances in Aortic Stenosis

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Recovery After TAVR: What to Expect

  • Older female patient in wheelchair
    An Easier Recovery Than Open Heart Surgery
    Unlike traditional valve replacement surgery, TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) does not involve a large surgical incision through the breastbone. Recovery from catheter-based heart procedures is much different than from open heart surgery. Read on to learn some tips about recovery after TAVR.

  • Mature Adult Couple In Conversation With Doctor
    Set Realistic Recovery Goals
    Your goals during recovery are to reach your individual milestones, follow diet and exercise routines, and return to a healthy life. This can take some time and be a challenge depending on your heart health, age, and overall health. It’s important that you have a realistic plan that helps recover and regain as much health as possible. Talk with your doctor from the beginning about the best strategies to reach your goals and what you can expect.
     

  • woman-holding-pills-in-hand
    Expect Some Pain
    It is common to have pain at the catheter insertion site (often in the leg) for several days following a TAVR. Pain tends to gradually resolve as you recover and heal. Controlling pain is important because it helps you complete rehabilitation and increase your activities. You may go home on a narcotic pain reliever to help you continue your recovery. Ask your doctor before taking other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve).
     

  • Doctor Comforting Senior Patient
    You’ll Need Cardiac Rehabilitation
    Cardiac rehabilitation will likely be part of your recovery. A benefit of TAVR on rehabilitation is that you won’t have a chest incision to limit you. However, people who qualify for TAVR tend to be sicker than those who can have traditional surgery. As a result, rehabilitation may take longer and you may need to take it slowly. Talk with your doctor or therapist about realistic rehabilitation goals.
     

  • walking-outdoors-senior-couple
    You’ll Return to Activities Gradually
    In most cases, doctors encourage walking for short periods after TAVR. Gradually, you’ll add activities and intensity over a month or so. Follow all instructions for climbing stairs, lifting things, and resting. Doing too much too fast can cause problems. Ask your doctor when it’s safe to return to daily activities, driving, work, sex, and leisure activities. It may take several weeks to months before you get back to all of your regular activities, depending on your overall health and heart health.
     

  • group-of-bandages
    Your Wound Will Take at Least Two Weeks to Heal
    Wound healing at the catheter incision site takes about two weeks after a TAVR. Follow all instructions for covering and dressing the wound, keeping it dry, and showering. At the end of two weeks, you may need your doctor to remove your stitches or staples. The site may remain bruised for a few weeks afterwards. Call your doctor if your wound is red, swollen, warm, draining excess fluid, bleeding, or starting to open.
     

  • Pills in hand
    You’ll Need Medicine to Prevent Blood Clots
    After TAVR, you will likely continue many of the medicines you took before the procedure. You will also have a new medicine to prevent blood clots from developing on the new valve. In general, this blood thinner is necessary for about six months after a TAVR. Your doctor will give you specific instructions about your blood thinner. If you have questions or develop side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Don’t stop taking any of your medicines without talking with your doctor first.
     

  • Man carrying full shopping basket in grocery store
    Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
    Your doctor may recommend a special heart-healthy diet after TAVR. If so, follow it closely once you’re home. It can help you recover and protect your heart. Make sure you include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. Try to limit saturated fats, cholesterol, and salt. This may be a challenge if it differs significantly from your previous food habits. A dietitian can help you make the transition.
     

  • Dialing-on-a-keypad
    Watch for Complications
    It’s important to be aware of possible complications while you recover so you can tell your doctor. Call your doctor right away if you have fever, flu-like symptoms, or heart palpitations. These could be signs of a complication. Other warning signs include increased shortness of breath, chest pain, vision or speaking problems, or numbness, coolness, or a change in color in your leg. Call 9-1-1 or seek medical attention if you notice these problems.
     

  • Closeup of a relaxed senior couple looking at eachother
    Remember: Recovery Takes Time
    An ideal TAVR recovery is one that improves your quality of life and reduces as many symptoms as possible. This can take some time, but you can do your part to get there. Work with your doctor to set goals and make realistic expectations for recovery. Your doctor will check your progress as your heart heals. Celebrate your progress and the recovery milestones that you achieve. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and be sure to call your doctor with any concerns.
     

Recovery After TAVR: What to Expect

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
  1. Cardiac Rehabilitation after Valve Replacement Surgery Post-Webcast Q&A. American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. https://www.aacvpr.org/Portals/0/events_edu/webinars/Cardiac%20Rehabilitation%20after%20Valve%20Repl....
  2. Heart Valve Surgery Goals. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/HeartValveProblemsandDisease/Heart-Valve-Surgery-Goals....
  3. Heart Valve Surgery Recovery and Follow Up. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/HeartValveProblemsandDisease/Heart-Valve-Surgery-Recov....
  4. TAVI: Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implant: A Guide for Patients and Families. University of Ottawa Heart Institute. http://www.ottawaheart.ca/content_documents/TAVI_Guide.pdf.
  5. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation. University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. http://www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/cardiology/7405.pdf
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Last Review Date: 2018 Jul 30
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