A glance around the home of Maurice Finkel reveals several things. First, a vast collection of musical keyboards, including a baby grand piano and a three-manual Wurlitzer organ, show his love of music. A certificate of appreciation from the Federal Aviation Committee for 50 years of service is a clue to his career as a pilot. And trinkets, framed photographs and souvenirs are signs of a curious and active mind.
"It's a great experience being a human being," he said, "being active and accomplishing things gives us great purpose."
Several months ago, however, staying active became harder.
"Fortunately, I've been very healthy," said Finkel, "but I found I was running out of energy when I worked a little, and when I walked a little distance, I was running out of energy." Even talking became difficult, for he found himself gasping for breath.
A visit a cardiologist revealed the problem was heart-related. One of the valves in his heart, the aortic valve, was damaged, and it was now too narrow to pump blood through the heart effectively.
While a traditional heart valve replacement or valve repair would be a reasonable solution for a patient, these require major surgery, which comes with risks, especially for older patients. Still, there was another option - a perfect option, for Finkel, according to William Berg, MD, interventional cardiologist with Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians.
Finkel's damaged valve could be stabilized with a transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. A collapsible valve is placed using a catheter inserted through an artery in the leg, much like heart stents are delivered and placed. The valve is positioned in the ailing aortic valve and expanded. It then "takes over" the work of the damaged valve leaflets, and proper blood flow is restored.
"Mr. Finkel was a perfect candidate for this procedure," said Dr. Berg, who also serves as the medical director for the cardiovascular labs at Franciscan Health in central Indiana. "It's not an open surgical procedure, it gets him out and active again in a very short time, and because it's a procedure using a catheter and doesn't require surgery, the risk is relatively low for him."
"The TAVR not only treats the problem of the narrowed or damaged valve but it also improves the longevity of the patient and improves his quality of life," said Saeed Shaikh, MD, interventional cardiologist with Indiana Heart Physicians.
While a relatively new procedure in heart centers across the country, TAVR isn't new to the Franciscan Health Heart Center valve team. In fact, Finkel was the team's 200th TAVR patient at Franciscan Health Indianapolis.
"More than 10 years ago, Franciscan Health established Indiana's first heart valve center," said Marc Gerdisch, MD, of Cardiac Surgery Associates. "And since then we've brought together some of the best talent in the nation for evaluating and caring for patients with valve disorders. Our adoption of innovations like TAVR - and our commitment to being the state's top experts in them - makes the level of care we can provide valve patients exceptional."
After his procedure, Finkel was soon back to his home and music, thankful to put his curiosity back to work.
"I'm grateful every day for the opportunity [to explore], and the opportunities are there because the beauty of the world is everywhere," he said.
By Jennifer Hawke