Michael Drulis prepares to ride his bike after recovery form his TVAR procedure.

TAVR Heart Procedure Adds Miles Back to Life

TAVR, Heart & Vascular
Exercise is an incredible outlet for Lewes, Delaware, resident Mike Drulis. He spends time outside as often as possible — whether he is walking five miles a day or biking 12 to 14 miles at a time. Caring for his health has always been important since Drulis has dealt with some medical issues, such as a heart murmur, his entire life. When he started experiencing shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, and chest pain, he turned to the Bayhealth Heart and Vascular team for a treatment.

Symptoms would come and go, but Drulis could sense that it needed to be addressed sooner rather than later. Bayhealth Cardiologist Pedro J. Perez, MD, discovered that Drulis was dealing with aortic valve stenosis. This is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, which greatly restricts blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta.

Aortic valve stenosis is most frequently fixed with open-heart valve surgery. But Bayhealth offers a more innovative, effective, and less invasive procedure for those who meet the criteria called TAVR.

The transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) involves insertion of a catheter into the femoral artery (through the patient’s groin or leg) and advanced imaging to guide a replacement valve into place. The new valve expands to fill the space, pushing the old valve out of the way. The benefits include no incision, shorter hospital stay and faster recovery.

As the region’s healthcare leader, Bayhealth was the first and only healthcare system in Delaware to be certified by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) as a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Center of Excellence in February 2021.

In January of 2021, Dr. Perez began the testing to find out if Drulis was a candidate for the TAVR procedure. Fortunately, he did meet the criteria and Drulis was eager to have it done without any hesitation. Drulis said, “I trusted my doctors completely and felt very at peace with my decision.”

Bayhealth Chief Cardiothoracic Surgeon and TAVR Program Medical Director Gary W. Szydlowski, MD, performed Drulis’ TAVR procedure at the Kent Campus and it went extremely well.

“I was pleasantly surprised how much better I felt almost immediately,” Drulis shared. “I even played 18 holes of golf two weeks later.” He had minimal scarring and post-op pain. Drulis said he didn’t even need any of the pain medication he was prescribed.

Drulis has a lot to live for as he carries on the legacy of his beloved late wife of 50 years. He’s now living with his daughter and son-in-law at the beach and is able to watch two of his grandchildren grow up. Drulis is so grateful for a solution that allowed him to bounce back quickly— he’s enjoying precious time with family, getting out on the trails taking long walks and bicycling once again.

Visit Bayhealth.org/TAVR to learn more about the procedure. To be matched with a Bayhealth physician, call 1-866-BAY-DOCS.