TAIPEI (CNA) — A Taipei hospital on Tuesday announced that one of its patients is the longest-living person to have received pioneering heart surgery, the 107-year-old man underwent an operation more than five years ago to replace an aortic valve.
According to Cheng Hsin General Hospital, its cardiac surgery team performed Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) surgery on the patient surnamed Chen (陳) when he was 102.
The previous record for the oldest living person to have undergone TAVI surgery was a man who had the operation at 99, but passed away before 107, the hospital said.
Wei Jeng (魏崢), superintendent of Cheng Hsin General Hospital, said at a press event that the aortic valve usually opens when blood is pumped from the heart to the rest of the body.
Aortic stenosis is a condition where the aortic valve does not open and close properly, which can result in breathlessness, chest pain, dizziness and heart failure.
About 2 percent of people over 65 suffer from aortic stenosis which jumps to 4 percent for the over 85s, he said.
Most of those who suffer from the onset of symptoms die within two years, according to Wei.
For people with aortic valve problems, the usual treatment is open heart valve surgery, which has a 97 percent success rate, Wei said.
However, for people who are too old or who have other medical problems, open heart surgery may be considered too risky, he added.
For those patients, TAVI, a procedure that allows an aortic valve to be implanted using a long narrow tube called a catheter, is considered preferable to open heart surgery, he noted.
The cardiac surgery team at Cheng Hsin is one of the most experienced in Taiwan at performing TAVI. Of the 2,200 patients who have received such surgeries in Taiwan, 560 were done at Cheng Hsin, he added.
However, Wei also noted that the cost of the TAVI procedure is not covered by National Health Insurance and is relatively expensive. For younger patients, regular open heart surgery is better suited to their needs, he added.