Dr. William Wallace treated us at breakfast last Wednesday with a detailed presentation of how a defective aortic valve in the heart is now remedied; it is a substantial advancement on the previous methods, and Dr. Wallace is proud to have pioneered the introduction here in Savannah.
Dr. Wallace is a native of Jackson, Mississippi; he went to Georgetown University and then to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he received his medical degree and where he also served his internship. He received a fellowship in Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology. He moved to Savannah about nine years ago and helped launch the new treatment program for aortic stenosis.
Dr. Wallace’s presentation was accompanied by visuals of the heart and its functioning, which illustrated the problems presented by disease of the aortic valve and the remedy provided by the new treatment. For the members of the Skidaway Island Rotary club watching this presentation, a model of a heart (or at least, half a heart) cut in a cross section to show its inner workings, was passed around so that we could understand exactly what was being discussed. The pictorial presentation showed us how the heart works, the right and left ventricle, the right and left atrium, and the key aortic valve with access to the aorta. A picture also showed a healthy aortic valve and a diseased one. The latter has a much diminished aperture for blood flow – “aortic stenosis is usually caused in patients over 65 years old by calcific (calcium) deposits associated with aging.” Additional factors after aging are the old villains – high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, smoking, being male – and symptoms include the inevitable chest pain, fatigue, etc. Diagnosis is made by stethoscope, electrocardiography, echo cardiography, and cardiac catheterization to assist in heart X-Ray.

We received the less than cheerful news that aortic stenosis, untreated, results in a 50% chance of dying within two years and a 20% chance of dying within 5 years – “aortic stenosis is life threatening and progresses rapidly” - Dr. Wallace told us. The only effective treatment is to have the defective valve replaced. We saw on the screen the new valve called the “Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), and handled one that passed around for us to understand its size and how it fits into, and replaces, the aortic valve in the heart. It is delivered to the body via an incision in the front of the patient’s chest in between the ribs. For anyone suffering from this defective heart condition this new valve is a new lease on life. We thanked Dr. Wallace for his talk, for his work, and for the hope that he restores to those who need his help.  The current surgical methodology for implanting the new valve saves a patient from having to undergo the trauma of open heart surgery. 

Below is a photo of President Bill with Dr. Wallace.