By Kimberly Eiten

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings had a procedure done Wednesday to correct narrowing of the aortic valve.

A statement sent out by Cummings states the “minimally invasive medical procedure” was done at Johns Hopkins Hospital to treat aortic stenosis.

The Trans Arterial Aortic Valve Replacement procedure corrected narrowing of the aortic valve.

“It’s a serious problem. The valve opening is supposed to be the size of a quarter, and, over time, it can become as small as the size of a pencil,” says Dr. Dipin Gupta of Medstar Union Memorial Hospital.

A shrinking valve means expanded danger.

“The life expectancy is only a couple of years, and the heart muscle can get very weak very fast when the valve becomes tight,” Gupta says.

With treatment Dr. Gupta says there’s a high recovery rate.

“We get rid of all the hardening. We cut that out, and we’ll sew in this new valve. You can see, it’s wide open. The heart has a very easy time beating against an opening this large.”

Dr. Gupta says there are two ways to treat the dangerous heart condition. The procedures and the recovery time, vastly differ.

One involves open heart surgery, the other is commonly called Tavr, what Cummings underwent Wednesday.

“This whole thing is squeezed down onto a catheter. And, we put it through the groin. The tube that we put it in is about the size of a large pen. Then, this expands once we put it inside,” Gupta says.

The operation and recovery are quicker.

Dr. Gupta says the replacement valves usually work well and last about 15 years.

Hopkins doctors say the success rate for valve replacement is 97 percent.

Rep. Cummings will be hospitalized for a few days before returning to work.

Cummings released the following statement following the procedure:

“Congressman Elijah E. Cummings underwent a minimally invasive medical procedure on Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital to treat aortic stenosis. The procedure, called Trans Arterial Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), was used to correct narrowing of the aortic valve. The Congressman will remain in the hospital for a few days and will return to his normal schedule thereafter.”

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