Central Pa. UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute are First in U.S. to Evaluate New TAVR Stroke Prevention System

November 17, 2023

Physicians from the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute at UPMC Harrisburg are the first structural interventional cardiologists in the U.S. to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of a filtration system to prevent blood clots that would be released during the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure from traveling to the brain and causing a stroke.

TAVR is a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure to treat aortic valve stenosis. During the procedure, the doctor replaces a defective aortic valve with a biological tissue valve. This minimally invasive surgery allows for faster recovery times, a smaller incision, and a shorter hospital stay compared to traditional open heart surgery. During TAVR, particles may be released into the patient’s blood stream, which can reach the brain and cause a stroke. 

Hemal Gada, MD, president of the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Central Pa., and Paul Mahoney, MD, co-director of the structural heart program, are principal investigators in a groundbreaking trial to evaluate the Emblok™ Embolic Protection System. This embolic filtration system inserted during TAVR is designed to capture and remove embolic debris during TAVR. Dr. Mahoney, the site principal investigator, successfully performed the procedure utilizing the Emblok™ System in October at UPMC Harrisburg.

“Although stroke risk is decreasing with newer generation devices, it remains an important and troubling complication of TAVR,” said Dr. Gada. “As part of UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute’s efforts to reduce disabling stroke rate during TAVR procedures to as close to zero as possible, we implement various techniques and devices for increased patient safety. The Emblok™ Embolic Protection System is another important breakthrough in ensuring the safety of our patients.”

This trial exemplifies the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute team’s efforts to utilize groundbreaking research to advance patient care and outcomes. Dr. Gada, Dr. Mahoney, and the entire team of cardiovascular experts at UPMC Harrisburg are continually recognized for their clinical excellence. Recently, the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Central Pa. achieved the highest rating possible from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) in 4 out of 5 total categories for patient care and outcomes. This rating places UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Central Pa. among the most elite cardiac surgery programs — the top 1% — in the U.S. and Canada. For more information on the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Central Pa., visit UPMC.com/CentralPaHeart

This trial is funded by Innovative Cardiovascular Solutions, LLC (ICS).