A novel procedure for heart valve replacement surgery could provide improved health outcomes for patients who cannot have open heart surgery, as well as being a cost effective alternative.
This is the basis of research being carried out by the Centre for Applied Health Economics, part of the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University.
The Centre’s research team is a winner of this year’s Vice Chancellor Research Excellence Awards and Dr Cindy Mervin is one of those leading the study.
“Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a far more simpler procedure than open heart surgery and provides an alternative for high risk patients and an active treatment for those who are inoperable,” says Dr Mervin.
“Aortic stenosis has become the most frequent type of vascular heart disease and is likely to increase due to the ageing population. The standard current treatment for severe aortic stenosis— surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) – involves invasive open heart surgery with a long hospital recovery period. For some patients, this surgery is not possible,” says Dr Cindy Mervin.

An innovative treatment

The innovative alternative, commonly available in the US, results in a shorter hospital stay and less impact on hospital resources. Assessing the impact on both health and costs is particularly important when trying to maximise health outcomes within a fixed budget.
A US study followed two groups of patients over the age of 80 (high surgical risk patients and inoperable patients) with severe aortic stenosis, for a five year period.
Within each group, patients were assigned either the new transcatheter aortic valve replacement or the standard treatment – surgical aortic valve replacement for high-risk patients and medical management for inoperable patients.
“The results at five years showed a reduced hospital stay and similar outcomes for TAVR and SAVR; however, TAVR is more beneficial than medical management in patients who are considered inoperable,” says Dr Mervin.
“We have now conducted the economic evaluation using the clinical results of the US trial and estimated the potential costs and benefits to Australian patients and the Australian healthcare system,” says Dr Mervin.
“If TAVR becomes available in Australia, it will provide a cost-effective treatment option for many Australians who cannot have open heart surgery.”