100th TAVR patient breathing easy
By Lisa Crawford Watson
Margaret Frank is used to being an active, energetic person, with an agile, creative mind. Growing up in Orange County, she rode her bike to school and walked anywhere else she needed to go. A visual artist and pianist, she graduated from Occidental College and became a kindergarten teacher, invigorating the learning environment with music and art.
After raising four children, she moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, which felt like a homecoming as she found her cottage atop 15 stairs, and settled into her treehouse.
Every morning, for years, Frank has started her day by descending the stairs to retrieve her newspaper and then making the climb back up. Yet recently, she experienced a shortness of breath on the return. She looked pale in the mirror and found she was slightly anemic. At 88, she considered attributing her issues to aging, but her children disagreed.
“My sons said my voice wasn’t strong. For the first time in my life,” she says, “I sounded like an old lady.”
Frank made an appointment with her doctor who, concerned by the sound of her heart, referred her to a cardiologist, who referred her to Dr. Steven Goldberg, an interventional cardiologist and medical director for the Structural Heart Program at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
"Structural heart relates to heart disease acquired through wear and tear on the heart, or congenital heart problems with regard to the structures of the heart — primarily the valves or the septum — the dividing wall between the chambers of the heart," says Lisa Nelson, RN, BSN, program coordinator for the Structural Heart Program.
“Turns out I had a heart valve that was almost closed. I needed it replaced,” says Frank, “or I was going to be gone, soon.”
Goldberg performed a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive procedure used to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly, causing aortic valve stenosis or narrowing. For this procedure, the doctor operates via a catheter inserted into the leg or chest and guided into the heart.
Frank underwent the procedure at Community Hospital (the 100th TAVR at the hospital) on June 8 — her power number, she says.
“By 88, I’ve had a lot of very big decisions to make in my life,” she says, “and if they weren’t good ones, I was always going to make them so. Submitting to the TAVR procedure has been a very good decision.”
Six weeks later, Frank treks up and down her 15 stairs to retrieve her paper, with ease.
“The outcome of my procedure,” she says, “is that I have good energy and color in my cheeks. My eyes are bright; I no longer look like I died. Sometimes, the only thing I can adjust is my attitude. This time, Doctor Goldberg was able to fix my heart. I think I’ll be OK for a while now.”
Frank recently paid a visit to Community Hospital to check in with Nelson and Goldberg. “I appreciate them so much,” Frank says. “The TAVR procedure is behind me so now we’re friends.”