WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Heart problems aren’t something to take lightly, especially if you notice daily tasks are becoming difficult.

The new Heart Valve Clinic at United Regional is saving patients time, money and a heartache.

The statistics don’t lie when it comes to your health.

“Once the patient hits that symptomatic state, that mortality is about 50% in two years and about 80% in five years,” United Regional Heart Valve Clinic Coordinator Rebecca Lindeman, RN said.

Lindeman is talking about aortic stenosis, the most common valve disease in the book.

“Aortic stenosis is a progressive heart disease in which the aortic valve becomes calcified and then that causes the valve not to open properly, as the disease progresses from mild to moderate, to severe,” Lindeman said. “Then that calcification also progresses and the opening narrows, that causes the heart not to be able to pump that oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body.”

Shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness, they’re all symtoms of aortic stenosis.

“A lot of times these symptoms also get dismissed by this population because they say ‘well I’m getting older so I’m 74 years old, I shouldn’t be able to walk the entire golf course,’ but once they start to see this like progressing that’s when we really need to see what’s going on,” Lindeman said.

If it becomes severe, the patient will come in to the clinic for an essentially all-day visit.

“We work to have a one stop shop kind of method,” Lindeman said.

First meeting with a nurse to have some assessments done. Then comes the imaging and respiratory departments for outstanding diagnostics before a lunch break. Then it’s the structural heart teams turn in the afternoon.

“Not having to go see the cardiovascular surgeon in their office, not having to go see the cardiologist, not having to come in on different days is really beneficial to them,” Lindeman said.

Some patients based on risk and age may have to have open heart surgery to fix the valve. Others may be recommended for the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), new to United Regional.

“95% of them are done with femoral access and you go in through the femoral artery, up the aorta and then you get into the aortic root where that valve is,” Lindeman said. “Then by using a balloon, so the valve is crimped down into that sheath, and then by using a balloon process it is blown up into place.”

Valve replacement made easier by saving a trip to the metroplex and extra costs that come with it.

“If my dad had to have this procedure done, I’d have to take off work, I would’ve had to go to Dallas for his pre-ops with him, I would’ve had to be there and take off work for the procedure itself plus the follow-ups,” Lindeman said. “That doesn’t include just taking off work, maybe getting a hotel, eating out, so lots of additional costs and just time that takes away from family.”

With just a few months under its belt, the Heart Valve Clinic proving its inception is a life saver.

The TAVR procedure requires just a one-night stay in the hospital and patients typically start rehab within just about three days.

The alternative is five to six days in the hospital and a six week recovery time.

Click here to learn more about aortic stenosis or the Heart Valve Clinic.