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Dennis Gerke

Unique heart procedure performed at St. Cloud Hospital

Dennis hopes to enjoy many more days of retirement pursuing his favorite hobbies.A triple heart bypass surgery 17 years ago didn’t slow Dennis Gerke of Willmar.

That is until last fall when he became very fatigued and short of breath. “I knew something was wrong when I could hardly make it out to the mailbox,” he said.

Dennis was seen by Cardiologist Thom Dahle, MD, CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center, who told him he had severe aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the aortic valve obstructing blood flow.

Because Dennis was a high risk for traditional valve replacement surgery, he qualified for a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), performed on a beating heart without bypass surgery. The cardiologist threads a catheter — containing a collapsible valve in a stent — through the patient’s groin. The catheter makes its way to the aortic valve via the femoral artery. The artificial valve is expanded inside the native valve by inflating a balloon.

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Read other stories of patient's courage and their care at CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center at St. Cloud Hospital.

“St. Cloud Hospital is the first hospital outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Rochester — and one of only five in Minnesota — to perform this exciting new procedure,” Dr. Dahle said. “The procedure generally takes less than an hour and patients feel better immediately and are usually discharged from the hospital within four days.”

Dennis, 77, is getting back to everyday life. “I’m feeling much better and can’t wait to go fishing,” he said.

Learn more about our Structural Heart Disease Program.

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