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Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital continues cardiovascular care advancements

A physician at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital demonstrates how the Octaray Mapping Catheter electrode array opens inside the heart for guiding ablation procedures. (File Photos/
New treatments for irregular heartbeat, heart valve replacement at Abrazo
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Recent advances in cardiovascular care offer new options for those with heart valve disease or an irregular heartbeat, according to medical experts at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital.

Heart valve replacement therapy took another step forward recently when physicians at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital were first in Arizona to use the new Evolut FX TAVR implant for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for symptomatic severe aortic stenosis patients, according to a press release.

Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve that obstructs blood flow through the heart and to the rest of the body, resulting in shortness of breath and the inability to complete day-to-day activities, the release states.

The new valve is an evolution of the TAVR valves that Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital doctors have been on the forefront of bringing to a wider patient population in Arizona, according to Abrazo Cardiovascular Services Director Tammy Querrey.

TAVR is a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery that enables a medical team to implant a replacement valve through a small puncture site in an artery located in the groin or neck. Abrazo physicians participated in the clinical study that resulted in FDA approval of transcatheter aortic valve replacement in patients with low surgical risk of major complications or death.

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital continues to engage in cardiovascular research, noted hospital President Phil Fitzgerald. One example is the “Apollo Trial,” a pivotal trial designed to evaluate the Intrepid TMVR system in patients with severe, symptomatic mitral valve regurgitation.

Image from Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital shows an Octaray Mapping Catheter deployed on the heart. The device has 48 electrodes to enable detailed electromapping of the heart to better guide ablation procedures. (File Photos/

Abrazo Health leads ‘Apollo Trial’

Led locally by Dr. Timothy Byrne and Dr. Merick Kirshner, Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital is a top enroller of patients in the study, said Mr. Fitzgerald. The transcatheter mitral valve replacement therapy study is evaluating the safety and efficacy of the Intrepid TMVR system in up to 1,200 patients globally.

A new option for patients with atrial fibrillation, better known as Afib or irregular heartbeat, is the Amulet procedure. Afib patients often take blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming in an appendage of the heart that can travel to the brain, causing a stroke. In addition to blocking the blood clots, patients who receive the Amulet device may no longer need blood thinning medications.

The Amulet Left Atrial Appendage Occluder seals the heart’s left atrial appendage to prevent stroke-causing blood clots, according to Dr. Akash Makkar, who performed the first Amulet procedure at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital. Abrazo was among the first hospitals in Arizona to offer the Amulet procedure following its approval for commercial use, Abrazo officials report.

The minimally invasive procedure uses dual-seal technology to permanently seal the heart’s left atrial appendage, alleviating the need for blood-thinning medication following the procedure. A previous option for sealing the appendage requires blood-thinning drugs during healing and additional patient monitoring to ensure closure, he said.

Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital recently introduced the new Octaray Mapping Catheter System for treating Afib with ablation to help the heart stay in rhythm. The system provides improved electromapping of the heart for ablation procedures to better target the areas causing concern.

“It’s an improved mapping technology that’s more efficient for the patient and can find things that old systems may have missed,” explained Dr. Makkar, who was first to use the system at Abrazo.

“We continue to invest in our ability to provide innovative cardiovascular care for the entire state of Arizona. With deep roots in the Valley, we strive be to the forefront of bringing medical advances to our patients,” said Mr. Fitzgerald.

Doctors at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for treating patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve that obstructs blood flow through the heart and to the rest of the body. (File Photos/
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