When Jim McCutchon, a 90-year old retired physician, was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, he jumped headfirst into understanding his condition. Aortic stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, which can result in shortness of breath and fatigue from reduced blood flow from the heart to the brain and the rest of the body. The primary treatment for aortic stenosis is to replace the diseased aortic valve. Left untreated, the condition can eventually lead to heart failure and even death.
Despite his age, Jim enjoyed an active lifestyle playing tennis, going for long walks and working in his yard. Yet he knew that his condition could threaten his ability to do the things he loves. “At the time of my diagnosis, I wasn’t experiencing symptoms, but as the condition progressed, I had to stop playing singles tennis, and then stopped playing doubles tennis. I worried that my time was running out,” he said.
After discussions with his cardiologist, Jim decided to undergo transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). TAVR is a minimally invasive heart procedure to replace the diseased aortic valve and restore proper blood flow. While this procedure is now comparable to open heart surgery in terms of safety and effectiveness, there is a risk that debris such as calcified heart valve or tissue can break loose during the procedure, travel in the bloodstream toward the brain, and potentially cause a stroke.
Understanding this risk, Jim asked his doctor about the SENTINEL™ Cerebral Protection System, a device that safely captures and removes debris dislodged during TAVR before it can reach the brain.
“I had done my research, and I told my doctor, ‘I’ve got to have the SENTINEL device if I’m going to have this done,’” Jim said. “This device is a brain saver. I wanted to have my brain saved.”
Gaining a complete understanding of his diagnosis and his treatment options gave Jim the confidence to undergo TAVR and, ultimately, a new lease on life. “I can now do my own yardwork, I dig in the dirt and I’ve even helped my son build a fence for my granddaughter to train her mustangs,” Jim said. “I have no pain and no shortness of breath. I have not looked back since.”
Jim recently shared his experience in a patient webinar: Aortic Stenosis: What you Need to Know, hosted by Mended Hearts and Boston Scientific. To view the webinar, click here.
Watch Jim’s story:
Safety information on the SENTINEL CPS can be found here.