St. David's HealthCare - June 20, 2023

South Austin resident Nita Sexton has lived with an irregular heart rhythm all her life. At 79 years old, she has decades of experience visiting cardiologists to ensure a long, healthy life, so when she began feeling sluggish and experienced difficulty moving around, she didn’t think much of it. She figured it was a sign of aging as she approached 80. Nita described the feeling as “sinking into quicksand,” and she felt trapped by her own body. Then one day, after a year of this sinking feeling, she suffered a serious fall and was knocked unconscious.

Prosthetic Heart Valve

At the urging of her children, Nita went to the hospital and saw Dr. Nathan Boyer, a cardiologist at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, where she underwent a series of tests to measure the functionality of her heart. Dr. Boyer determined that Nita had a narrowing aortic valve that needed to be repaired. However, instead of an invasive, open–heart procedure, Dr. Boyer recommended a transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure to treat cardiac valves that are not working properly. The operating physician inserts a catheter through a small incision, then uses imaging to insert a new valve.

Earlier this year, Dr. Boyer performed the TAVR procedure on Nita. She spent one night in the hospital and was discharged the next day with immediate relief of all her symptoms. She describes the whole process as, “easier than going to the dentist.”

Now, Nita has a new lease on life and is looking forward to spending time with her children and family.