John A New Heart Valve, Renewed Life - John's Story

"I was very impressed with everyone, everything at NBI. It was a very positive experience.”

An alternative to open-heart surgery at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center brought new energy to a man with aortic stenosis.

“My cardiologist told me that if I didn’t get care soon for my faulty heart valve, it could close up within weeks,” says John Artale of Lakewood. “My life was at risk.”

John had aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the arteries. His physician connected him immediately to a special team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBI) that offers an innovative treatment. It’s a newer procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

“The FDA approved TAVR years ago for people who were not healthy enough for major heart surgery,” says Sergio Waxman, MD, Division Director of Cardiology at NBI. “Recently, we were also part of a clinical trial to study whether this is comparable to open-heart surgery in healthier patients. The study confirmed that it is.”

The traditional method of replacing a faulty aortic valve is open-heart surgery, which involves cutting the chest open and is followed by up to 10 days in the hospital and lengthy recovery at home. For people like John, who was just months away from his 90th birthday, TAVR—which is done through very small incisions—is less risky.

“Dr. Waxman explained everything to me, and I had complete faith and trust in everyone there,” he says.

NBI staff also made all the transportation arrangements for him and Evelyn, his wife of 63 years, from their home in Lakewood to Newark, 60 miles away.

“A Positive Experience”

TAVR specialists at NBI thread a thin tube, the catheter, from an artery in the groin up to the heart. Using tiny tools and specialized techniques, the physician replaces the faulty valve with a new one.

“It’s a one-hour procedure, and patients are usually home the next day,” Dr. Waxman says. “Many feel better immediately and are back to normal activity in about 10 days.”

That was true for John.

“I had the procedure at about 9 in the morning, was back in my room by 10:30, and walking around by 2 p.m.,” he says, still impressed by the experience. “I attribute my care and recovery to the people at NBI, and to divine help, of course.”

He was home the next day and soon discovered symptoms were disappearing. For example, he could finally sleep “like a baby,” where before he often woke up breathless, which had been a symptom of his aortic stenosis. And instead of feeling fatigue, he now goes to rehab three days a week at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, an RWJBarnabas Health facility near his home.

“I was very impressed with everyone, everything at NBI,” says the retired engineer, who until this procedure had very little experience with hospital stays. “It was a very positive experience.”

Don’t delay getting the care you need. Your heart doesn’t beat just for you. Get it checked. To reach a Newark Beth Israel Medical Center cardiac specialist, call (888) 724-7123 or request an appointment.