Baptist Health-Fort Smith Offers TAVR for Severe Aortic Stenosis

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Baptist Health-Fort Smith now offers transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for severe aortic stenosis patients as part of its growing structural cardiology program. 

Dr. Hussam Hawamdeh, an interventional and structural cardiologist at Baptist Health, has performed the procedure at Baptist Health-Fort Smith over the last six months. Dr. Hawamdeh joined the system last year after completing fellowships in both interventional cardiology and structural cardiology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

In  patients diagnosed with  aortic stenosis (AS), sometimes the cause is due to  the buildup of calcium on the aortic valve’s leaflets. Over time, the leaflets become stiff, which reduces the ability of the valve to fully open and close. When the leaflets don’t fully open, a person’s heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve to the rest of the body. Patients born with a heart defect can also suffer from AS later in life. 

Symptoms of AS may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fluttering heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Difficulty sleeping or the need to sleep sitting up 

Approximately 2.5 million people in the US over the age of 75 suffer from this life-threatening disease. Aortic stenosis is a progressive disease which means it gets worse over time, making treatment critical. After the onset of symptoms, patients with severe AS have a survival rate as low as 50% at two years and 20% at five years without aortic valve replacement. 

The TAVR procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization lab at Baptist Health-Fort Smith using one of many approaches, the most common being the transfemoral, through the upper leg, approach. This minimally invasive approach allows Dr. Hawamdeh to place a tissue valve into the heart through a sheath and avoids the patient going through an open heart surgery. 

 “TAVR has been one of the most impactful therapies in medicine,” said Dr. Hawamdeh. “It’s not only life-saving therapy, but also reduces the recovery time from six to 12 months with surgical valve replacement to less than two weeks with TAVR.”

For more information about AS, TAVR and if you or someone you know may be a candidate talk to your doctor or call Baptist Health-Fort Smith Valve Coordinator, Mary Jill Otts, RN, at (479) 441-4097.


About Baptist Health

For more than a century, Baptist Health has delivered all our best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health, Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization, is here For You. For Life. – with more than 250 points of access that include 11 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; and a graduate residency program. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app