Published on October 17, 2016

Carmela A's Story

Carmela Abazzia, TAVR patient Carmela Abbazia is a very active 91-year-old. As a member of several local over-60 clubs, Carmela enjoys playing cards and bingo with her friends and volunteers at St. Camillus Nursing Home where she helps to serve lunch to residents.

Last spring, Carmela noticed she was having a little trouble breathing and some pain in her chest. So she went to see her cardiologist, Dr. Wayne Miller, who sent her for a cardiac catheterization. This revealed a build-up of plaque in her aortic valve, and further testing confirmed that she was a good candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR.

TAVR is provided at the Stamford Health Structural Heart Disease Center & Valve Clinic, and operates under the joint leadership of the interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery teams.

Carolyn Kasov, APRN, FNP, is the nurse practitioner for the program and works closely with TAVR patients to help answer questions, coordinate appointments and testing, and follow up with them after their procedure.

“I really enjoy being part of this program and working so closely with the physicians, our patients and their families,” said Kasov. “In the past there weren’t a lot of options for these patients, so it is wonderful to be able to offer this type of program, right in our own community.”

“TAVR provides life-saving treatment for patients with aortic stenosis, which occurs when the heart’s aortic valve narrows,” said Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Nicola Corvaja. “Although the gold-standard treatment for aortic stenosis is open-heart surgery, a minimally invasive option like TAVR is a good option for patients like Carmela, who are not ideal candidates for surgery.”

According to Dr. Corvaja, the TAVR program also benefits from the expertise of Dr. Antonio Colombo, who is a principal operator of its TAVR procedures. Dr. Colombo is recognized internationally for his groundbreaking contributions to the field of interventional cardiology. The extensive experience of Drs. Corvaja and Colombo in TAVR enables Stamford Hospital to care for a wide range of patients, from the simplest cases to those that are more challenging and complex.

“TAVR is currently indicated for high-risk surgical patients. Clinical trials are now exploring its potential benefit in a younger, intermediate-risk patient population, which would make this transformational technology available to more people who need it,” reveals Dr. Colombo.

Following her hospital stay, Carmela’s recovery included 32 sessions of cardiac rehabilitation, a program that is provided at Stamford Health’s Tully Health Center.

Today she is back to keeping a busy schedule and doesn’t miss a beat. She no longer gets out of breath when walking, though she does pay more attention to what she eats.

“I’ve been through a lot in my life and I’m still going,” she said. “I think part of that is just my nature. I get up in the morning and if I can do something, I’m going to do it.”

For more information about the Stamford Health Structural Heart Disease & Valve Clinic, call 203.276.8258.

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