A new heart valve initiative has been launched to reduce waiting times for transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) with a fast track pathway for heart valve disease.

Heart valve disease affects 1.5 million people in the UK and is fatal if left untreated. TAVI was introduced as an alternative therapy to replace damaged aortic valves in patients with aortic stenosis who are considered high risk for traditional open-heart surgery.

In 2019 alone, there were up to 450 deaths in the UK as a result of long waiting times for TAVI.

Working alongside the new APPG on Heart Valve Disease, MPs, Clinicians and Charity Leaders joined forces to launch Valve for Life in the UK – focusing on the need to reduce waiting times for TAVI across the NHS; address the current geographical inequity; and reduce the very high numbers of patients dying while awaiting treatment.

Fast-track TAVI pathway for heart valve disease patients

In the UK, patients can wait for 150 days (5 months) on average for TAVI treatment and this could be exacerbated by the current pandemic. Valve for Life aims to establish a fast-track TAVI pathway for UK heart valve disease patients to tackle these challenges.

Dr Dan Blackman, who treats patients with Heart Valve Disease and is leading the Valve for Life initiative in the UK commented: “TAVI allows patients to have valve replacement under local anaesthetic, avoiding open-heart surgery and with a hospital stay of only two to three days on average, compared to eight days for surgery.

"TAVI also minimises use of pressured hospital resources, not only overall length of hospital stay, but also avoiding any need for use of ventilators or ICU beds, and therefore is ideally suited to the Covid and post-Covid era when pressure on NHS resources is huge, and the desire to avoid prolonged hospital stays is considerable on all sides. I’m hopeful from the discussions we’ve had today that we can make access to TAVI faster and fairer across the NHS, and by doing so can prevent many avoidable deaths.”

 For more news and articles on aortic stenosis go to our cardiovascular section