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acc-transcatheter-valve-certificationThe UNC Medical Center Heart Valve Clinic is the first TAVR center in North Carolina to become an American College of Cardiology (ACC) Certified TAVR Center of Excellence.

TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement) is a procedure to treat aortic stenosis, a type of heart valve disease, that does not require open-heart surgery. In 2019, the ACC began to offer TAVR certification to help hospitals implement best practices and identify quality improvement opportunities. The certification pairs with established national clinical databases to monitor patient safety, real-world outcomes related to transcatheter valve replacement and repair procedures.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment for the UNC TAVR team, and national recognition for successfully treating patients with aortic stenosis,” said Rick Stouffer, MD, chief of the division of cardiology and Ernest and Hazel Craige Distinguished Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine.

John Vavalle, MD, and Tommy Caranasos, MD

The ACC’s external review and certification process assists hospitals in meeting standards for multidisciplinary teams, formalized training, and shared decision-making, incorporating recent guidelines and expert consensus regarding the care of patients requiring transcatheter valve therapies.

By connecting current sources of data to opportunities for improvement, the ACC’s Transcatheter Valve Certification promotes consistent processes and places emphasis on the commitment to providing evidence-based, patient-centered care and coordination post-procedure, resulting in better patient outcomes.

John Vavalle, MD, medical director of the UNC Structural Heart Disease Program and associate professor of medicine in the division of cardiology, says the future of the heart valve program is bright.

“Being recognized by the ACC as North Carolina’s first Certified TAVR Center of Excellence is a testament to the tremendous effort so many individuals across numerous disciplines have poured into making this a program that we are all very proud of,” said Vavalle. “The people of North Carolina and beyond have access to the highest level of care for their complex heart valve disease, and I couldn’t be luckier to work with an amazing group of talented and dedicated individuals.”

The first TAVR procedure was successfully performed in 2014. Now, more than 600 TAVR procedures later, UNC’s program is recognized as one of the leading programs in the country.

Tommy Caranasos, MD, surgical director of the UNC TAVR Program, says the certification reflects UNC’s commitment to delivering the highest level of care to patients across North Carolina.

“We all work to care for our patients as we would our family,” said Caranasos, assistant professor of surgery. “This program allows us to deliver exceptional patient care, and it’s fantastic to see it recognized as the first TAVR Center of Excellence in the state.”

Learn more about the TAVR procedure in this UNC Health video, featuring Vavalle. Learn more about the ACC’s Transcatheter Valve Certification here.