When great-grandad Bill Tate had a new heart valve fitted he did not expect to be going home the same day.
But the 86-year-old was up, dressed and eating within four hours of his transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) – a non-surgical alternative to open heart surgery.
Cardiologists at The James Cook University Hospital were so impressed with his recovery they said there was no need for him to stay overnight.
Bill says the advanced procedure has given him a new lease of life as he is no longer struggling for breath, his heart flutter has improved and he is well enough to get back to a spot of gardening and is back driving.
The retired Methodist minister is no stranger to James Cook having previously received a heart bypass, coronary stents and a pacemaker.
In fact, it was the pacemaker which enabled Bill to become the first patient at the Middlesbrough hospital to be discharged on the same day as his TAVI procedure.
Most patients need to be monitored for at least one night in case they experience a change in heart rhythm, but Bill’s pacemaker meant this was not an issue.
“I was expecting to stay overnight but I was quite pleased when my consultant said I could go home,” said Bill, who lives near Darlington.
“At one time I was having to fight to breathe but now I feel tons better.
“I have received so much from the NHS and I feel proud to be the first patient at James Cook to have this procedure in a day.”
Bill’s breathlessness was caused when his main valve, which allows blood to flow from the heart around the body, became narrowed. The traditional treatment option would have been major open heart surgery, which involves opening up the chest, stopping the heart and inserting a new artificial heart valve; but this is not always possible for more frail or elderly patients.
TAVI, which has been performed at James Cook since November 2009, is a much less invasive alternative. Patients are fitted with new heart valves using advanced imaging technology and a tube (catheter) which is inserted through a small cut in their groin or chest, so there is no need to stop the heart.
“We currently send 60% to 70% of TAVI patients home the next day, but if you have a pacemaker Bill has proven it is now possible to get a new heart valve and be home the same day,” said consultant cardiologist Paul Williams.
“This was our first day case TAVI and one of the first in the UK.
“We are striving to improve the treatments on offer and the outcomes patients can expect. Our patients essentially need very little recovery time as their heart valve is fixed and they have only had a tiny incision which heals very quickly.”