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Edwin Haynack, TAVR Patient

Edwin Haynack - Farwell, MI

"They really do a great job in that department...all in all it went very well."

A Minimally-Invasive Heart Procedure is Giving Him the Strength to Dance Again

Retiree Edwin Haynack of Farwell, Mich., has an interest in medical genealogy. Because of this, he knows well that heart conditions run in his family. Several relatives have been treated for various types of heart disease. At age 61, one of his two sons had open heart surgery to have his aortic valve replaced.

It came as no surprise, then, when Edwin developed heart problems of his own. He and his wife, Jean, were at a restaurant in Clare, waiting at a table for some friends to arrive. "All of a sudden my head got real hot," Edwin said. The feeling went away after about 30 seconds, but then returned a couple of minutes later, and again a couple minutes after that.

Edwin and his wife went to the Emergency Department at MyMichigan Medical Center Clare. From there, he was sent by ambulance to MyMichigan Medical Center Midland. The staff there treated him for arrhythmia, and the next morning implanted a pacemaker in his heart.

Over the next few months, Edwin kept working with his cardiac care team at MyMichigan Health to get his heart back into working order. The head of his care team was Physician Assistant Jenifer Garcia, P.A.-C., who specializes in cardiology and heart failure. A month after his pacemaker was implanted, Edwin underwent a catheterization to examine the blood vessels in and around his heart. Garcia discovered severe blockages in one of his arteries, and a month later installed a stent to open it up.

During the examinations, Garcia found that Edwin would need to have his aortic valve replaced. The aortic valve is the valve that allows blood to pass from the heart into the aorta, the main artery that feeds the rest of the body. If something is wrong with the aortic valve, then blood flow to the whole body can be hindered. In this case, the valve needs to be replaced with a new one that is either stronger or wider, or both.

Unlike his son's valve replacement surgery years ago, Edwin didn't need to have his chest opened to have his valve replaced. Instead, he underwent a relatively new, minimally-invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.

During a TAVR procedure, the physician inserts a catheter into an easily-accessible artery – in Edwin's case, the catheter went through the femoral artery in his groin. The catheter is then directed up to the heart, where the new aortic valve is inserted without having to stop the heart from beating. Edwin's physician team included Cardiothoracic Surgeon Robert Jones, M.D., and Interventional Cardiologist Maged Rizk, M.D., Ph.D.

On the day of Edwin's procedure, everything went smoothly. "The preparation is worse than the surgery," he said. "I'm very squeamish; I can't stand the sight of blood." For Edwin, the actual procedure was easier to get through than even a routine blood draw. "You go into the Hybrid Suite, and the anesthetist is there," he said. "The next moment you know, you're like, 'Is it over?'"

Edwin's recovery afterward went just as well. "I didn't have any pain whatsoever," he said. His care team went over his aftercare instructions thoroughly, including what foods to eat and how to build up strength. "They really do a great job in that department," he said.

At home, Edwin is noticing improvements in his health and abilities. "Since the last one I feel much better," he said of the latest procedure. "I'm not out of breath." He's happy to be able to do ordinary chores around the house again.

For now, Edwin is attending cardiac rehab sessions through MyMichigan Health. He still has some tiredness and swelling in his legs, which should fade after therapy. In the meantime, he's building up his strength on the exercise machines.

Edwin's ultimate goal is to be well enough to go dancing again. He was formerly a ballroom dance instructor at MyMichigan Community College. He hopes to be able to teach his wife how to dance someday, so they can hit the town dancing from time to time.

MyMichigan Health offers a full array of heart and vascular services, including open heart surgery, vascular surgery, electrophysiology for heart rhythm problems and advanced interventional procedures. Those who would like additional information on MyMichigan's comprehensive cardiovascular team may visit www.mymichigan.org/heart.

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