Seattle native Tom Ruttkay knew that he needed to pay close attention to his heart. About a decade ago, he experienced atrial fibrillation — a quivering or irregular heartbeat. He’s been on medication to control it ever since. But when the 77-year-old former University of Washington rowing champion noticed a significant lack of energy last year, he made an appointment with his Kaiser Permanente cardiologist, Timothy Dewhurst, MD.
Dr. Dewhurst performed an echocardiogram, which led to a surprising discovery: Calcium had built up on a valve in Ruttkay’s heart, causing it to malfunction. “It wasn’t pushing blood through my body as it should,” he says. “I could feel my heart really pounding hard.”
That valve needed to be replaced.
Not long ago, Ruttkay would have faced full, open-heart surgery and the prospect of a weeklong hospital stay. But thanks to the minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure he