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BRIDGEPORT, CT – The first transcatheter aortic replacement (TAVR) procedure in the Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital was performed April 19 under the direction of interventional cardiologist Edward Tuohy, MD, together with Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery Umer Darr, MD, and interventional cardiologist Victor Mejia, MD. Their patient was a 78-year-old local woman.

“It was a total team effort – a great job with consummate teamwork”,” said Chief of Cardiology Stuart Zarich, MD, following the procedure.

“I extend my most heartfelt appreciation to every person who worked on this team,” added Gini Neglia, RN, Heart Institute executive director. “The procedure marks the start of our structural heart program and without the team’s dedication and hard work, this success would not have been possible.”

Up to now, TAVR patients were first seen at Bridgeport Hospital and went to Yale New Haven Hospital for the procedure. It is expected that more TAVR procedures will be done at Bridgeport Hospital following construction of a new hybrid operating room in the coming year.

TAVR is an effective option for heart valve replacement due to narrowing of the aorta (aortic stenosis) in high-risk patients who are not eligible for surgery. The valve is placed in the heart via a catheter through a small incision in the artery. Recovery time is generally faster than the open-chest approach and the hospital stay is usually only a few days.

The Joel E. Smilow Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital has been at the forefront of advanced cardiac care for decades. The hospital was the first in Fairfield County to perform open-heart surgery in 1963 and the first to perform ballon angioplasty in 1981. It also opened the county’s first electrophysiology laboratory in 1992 to diagnose and treat heart rhythm disorders.

Celebrating the hospital’s first TAVR procedure are (l-r) Bridgeport Hospital cardiologists Richard Taikowski, MD, and Edward Tuohy, MD; Cathy Wright, APRN; Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery Umer Darr, MD; Northeast Medical Group cardiologist Victor Mejia, MD; and Yale Medical Group cardiologist John Forrest, MD.