Valve disease, TAVR ... and Mick Jagger

Recent news stories reported that Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is recovering after undergoing a heart valve procedure called TAVR. What is TAVR, and is it right for you?

TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) is a minimally invasive procedure that is done to help patients with significant aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis is a condition caused by narrowing of the aortic valve opening. The main cause of aortic stenosis is calcium buildup on the valve, which often occurs with aging.

Calcium buildup can also be caused by rheumatic fever and radiation exposure to the chest. As the aortic valve narrows, it reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood through the valve and to your body. Left untreated, severe aortic stenosis can lead to heart failure or even sudden death.

Aortic stenosis is the most common type of valvular heart disease in the United States. The aortic valve opens and closes with each heartbeat and can begin to wear out over time. Up to seven percent of people over age 65 may develop some degree of aortic stenosis. 

Many individuals with early aortic stenosis live normal lives and have no symptoms, but aortic stenosis can become severe as the valve degenerates, leading to symptoms. Symptoms can be a sign of heart failure, which is usually treated with aortic valve replacement.

Symptoms of severe aortic stenosis include: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain (also known as angina)
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Swelling in your feet, ankles or legs

Once aortic stenosis is severe and symptoms are present, the most effective treatment is to replace the aortic valve. TAVR involves using a catheter from the leg or another approach to deliver a new aortic valve that replaces the heart’s diseased aortic valve without requiring open-heart surgery.

Yale New Haven Hospital is recognized as a national leader in transcatheter therapies and physicians at Yale recently led a national study, which demonstrated that even patients with low surgical risk may benefit from TAVR. YNHH was the first hospital in Connecticut to perform the procedure and today performs more than 200 TAVRs annually. Visit the TAVR page on the Yale New Haven Hospital website to learn more, or call 203-785-7990. 

Urinary incontinence: It’s no joke

It may be the subject of jokes, but urinary incontinence is no laughing matter. About 25 million Americans have some form of urinary incontinence. This number includes men and women of all ages. But most people with urinary incontinence are older than 60. 

Join us at 7 pm on Thursday, May 16 for “Don’t Make Me Laugh: Incontinence Isn’t Funny” at Old Saybrook Medical Center, 633 Middlesex Turnpike, Old Saybrook. YNHH urologist Mary Grey Maher, MD, will discuss the difference between stress, urge (frequent) and nocturnal (nighttime) incontinence. You’ll learn about the many treatment options available and how behavior modification, physical therapy, medication and surgery are used to treat this condition. Register here for "Don't Make Me Laugh" or call 888-700-6543. 

Read more about the symptoms, causes and treatments for urinary incontinence in our Health Library or take our urinary incontinence quiz.  

Free skin cancer screening in Waterford

Nearly 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. But did you know that the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 98 percent when detected and treated in its early stages?  

On Monday, May 6 from 5 - 7:30 pm, free skin cancer screenings will be conducted at Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center, 230 Waterford Parkway South, Waterford. To reserve an appointment, call 860-271-4617. 

YNHH also offers a monthly support group for men and women living with melanoma and their family members or caregivers. The meetings are held on the third Tuesday from 5:30 - 7 pm at Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 Park St., New Haven. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 21. For details or to register, call Laura Donnelly at 203-200-2120. 

Free lecture sets practical steps for healthy aging

If you're coming up on 65 — or even if you’ve already passed the milestone — you have more control over aging than you may think. Join geriatrician Gerard Kerins, MD, on Wednesday, May 8 from 3 - 4 pm to discuss practical and medical approaches to optimizing your health as you grow older. The free lecture will be at 201 Spencer Plains Road, Westbrook. Register online for Optimizing Your Chances for Healthy Aging.  

Ask Advancing Care 

A reader recently wrote to the editors of Advancing Care with a question of interest: “It involves the build-up of phlegm in the throat that impedes speech, especially first thing in the morning. It is, I believe, called ‘post-nasal drip,’ though in my family we call it ‘frog in the throat.’ I have had it for very many years.”  
Sara Richer, MD, an ENT-otolaryngologist with Yale New Haven Health, responded: “The sensation you are experiencing is called ‘globus,’ which is Latin for “ball,” and describes the sensation of a lump in the throat. There are multiple causes of globus, one of which is post-nasal drip. There are several other causes of this sensation, including allergies or acid reflux, which may or may not include heartburn. The treatment of post-nasal drip and these other causes of the lump in the throat sensation include a variety of over the counter and prescription treatments. Evaluation by an otolaryngologist will be helpful in addressing your symptoms and determining a treatment plan. Most importantly, an otolaryngologist will perform a thorough physical exam to be sure there is not a more serious underlying condition.”   

Would you like to learn more about a particular health topic or service? Do you have questions about classes and events at YNHH? We want to hear from you! Tell us what you like about Advancing Care or what you’d like to see in future issues. Send us an email and let us know how we can better serve your health needs.

Take a walk with YNHH doctors

Take a walk and chat with local doctors as part of Yale New Haven Health’s Get Healthy Walk ‘N Talk with a Doc. Walks are each Saturday in May from 9 - 10:30 am at the Farmington Canal Greenway Trail in New Haven. Walks begin at the entrance on the corner of Shelton Avenue and Starr Street and last approximately one hour. Parking is available at New Freedom Missionary Baptist Church, 280 Starr St., New Haven. Please arrive by 8:45 am on each walk day. For more information, email Andy Orefice or call 203-688-5671. 

To learn more about Get Healthy CT, a coalition dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles by removing the barriers to healthy eating and physical activity, visit

Cancer: The family connection

A percentage of certain cancers, including colorectal, breast, ovarian and melanoma, have a hereditary component that can be passed from one generation to the next. Cancer Genetic Counseling is a new frontier in the fight against cancer. It provides genetic counseling and testing to people at increased risk for hereditary cancer and helps them make informed medical decisions based on their own personal risk assessment.

If you have a family history of cancer on either your mother's or father's side and/or a personal history of cancer, you should look for the following risk factors:

  • Two or more family members on the same side of your family have had the same cancer
  • A family member was diagnosed with cancer at an unusually young age (e.g. breast cancer at 45 years or younger; colon cancer at 50 years or younger)
  • A clustering of related cancers (e.g. breast/ovarian, or colon/uterine) in the family
  • A family member carries a known genetic mutation (e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2, MSH2, MLH1)

For people who want to learn more, genetic consultation is available through the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program of Yale Cancer Center. 

A genetic consultation includes:

  • A detailed review of your family and medical history
  • A risk assessment of the chance that the cancer in the family is hereditary
  • A discussion of the risks, benefits and limitations of genetic testing
  • An individualized schedule of screening examinations and discussion about cancer prevention

For more information about genetic consultation, call 203-200-4362.

Classes, programs for cancer patients

Smilow Cancer Hospital offers a number of free classes and programs for patients and caregivers. Offerings include the following:

  • Yoga for Smilow patients (Old Saybrook): This specially designed yoga class offers gentle poses and modifications, stretching and strengthening exercises, mindful breathing practices and systematic relaxation. No previous yoga experience necessary. Class meets from 1 - 2 pm on May 8, 15, 22 and 29 at Old Saybrook Medical Center, 633 Middlesex Turnpike, Old Saybrook.
  • Gentle yoga for oncology patients (New Haven): A soothing practice that connects the mind and body with the thread of the breath. Yoga cultivates balance and fosters well-being. During each yoga session, breath is linked with simple movements to improve posture, flexibility and strength. Class meets from 10:30 -11:30 am on May 14 and 28 at Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 Park Street, New Haven.
  • Mindful meditation (New Haven): The core of mindfulness meditation is quieting the mind's constant chattering — thoughts, anxieties and regrets. Practitioners are guided to help them keep their attention focused on whatever they're doing at the present moment. The most basic mindfulness practice is sitting meditation: You sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus your awareness on your breath and other bodily sensations. Walk-ins welcome. Two sessions: from 1 - 1:30 pm on May 2, 16, 23 and 30 and from 12:30 - 1 pm on May 7, 14, 21 and 28 at Smilow Cancer Hospital, 35 Park St., New Haven.

Register for any of these courses at Select your preferred date on the calendar to find an open session.  

Referrals for physicians and surgeons

YNHH provides free information about and referrals to more than 2,600 affiliated physicians 24 hours a day. Call 888-700-6543 or visit our Find a Doctor feature on the hospital website for information on physician specialties, office hours and locations as well as insurance plans accepted. YNHH physicians represent more than 70 medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties, including internal medicine/family practice, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, pediatrics and psychiatry.

Need blood work? We’re in your neighborhood

When your physician orders blood work or you need to schedule a blood test, Yale New Haven Health makes it easy with blood draw stations conveniently located in your community. No appointment is necessary and all major insurance plans are accepted.

Please note: A requisition form is required. Our blood draw stations honor requisitions from other labs.

Find a location that's convenient on this list of blood draw locations on our website.

Free blood pressure screenings

YNHH offers free blood pressure screenings at a variety of community sites. Call 203-789-3275 for a list of locations and times or for more information.

YNHHS patients: Do you have MyChart?

MyChart gives Yale New Haven Health System patients secure, online, 24/7 access to portions of your electronic medical record (EMR). There you can see your medical history, most laboratory and test results, appointment information, medications, allergies, immunizations and other health information. You can schedule appointments with your doctor, request or renew prescriptions, see your billing and insurance information and send and receive secure, confidential electronic messages with your doctor’s office. Ask your healthcare provider for a MyChart brochure or your MyChart Activation Code, and then visit the MyChart website and select “Sign Up Now.”

Make a lasting impact at YNHH

Help support the mission of Yale New Haven Hospital with a donation! Your contributions support vital programs, services and facilities within the hospital and help keep Yale New Haven at the forefront of innovative treatment. When you make a gift to YNHH, you are part of the advanced medicine and compassionate commitment that touch so many lives in our community.

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Billing questions?

Yale New Haven Hospital offers financial counseling to patients and families. Spanish-speaking counselors are available. Additionally, evening sessions are scheduled once a month — the next two are Monday, May 20 and Monday, June 17 from 5 - 7 pm. To make an appointment with a financial counselor, call 203-688-2046.