Replacing a failing aortic valve: No surgery needed?

A procedure called TAVR has an easier, shorter recovery and is becoming the go-to treatment for aortic stenosis. But surgery may still be a better choice for some people.

Last April, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, 75, underwent a procedure that may soon replace surgery as the best way to treat a failing aortic valve. Called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), the procedure delivers a new valve to the heart through a catheter that's passed through an artery in the upper leg (see illustration).

Most valve replacements are done to treat aortic stenosis, which usually results from an age-related buildup of calcium deposits on the valve. About 3% to 4% of people ages 75 and older have severe aortic stenosis, which can leave them dizzy, breathless, and tired.

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