Riverside Community Hospital is advancing heart care for patients in local and surrounding communities through a newer procedure called TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement). This procedure allows a minimally invasive approach to treating a condition known as severe aortic stenosis for symptomatic patients who are at intermediate, high or extreme risk for open-heart surgery.

Severe aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening that does not allow normal blood flow. It can be caused by birth defect, or when is age-related, is caused by a build-up of calcium deposits that cause the valve to narrow or stiffen. Eventually, the heart gets weaker, increasing the risk of heart failure as the heart works harder to pump blood to the body.

“Think of severe aortic stenosis as rusty hinges on your heart’s aortic valve. When these hinges get calcified (rusty), they do not open fully, thus decreasing the blood flow and, in turn, oxygen to the whole body. Typically, patients would present with symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or passing out and heart failure. Aortic stenosis is life threatening and the survival rates are only 50% at two years. Studies have shown that the stroke and mortality rates with TAVR are around 1%, which are 75% lower than open heart surgery,” says Cardiologist, Dr. Syed Bokhari.

According to the American Heart Association, aortic stenosis is one of the most common and serious valve disease problems affecting nearly 1.5 million people in the United States.  Until recently, past treatments included an open-heart surgical valve procedures, medications, and watching and waiting.

Now with the TAVR procedure being performed at Riverside Community Hospital, patients meeting the clinical criteria can have a heart valve replaced though an opening typically smaller than a shirt collar button.  TAVR offers a number of benefits to the patients including faster recovery time and shorter hospital stay.

Sharon Hernandez was the third patient to receive a valve replacement at Riverside Community Hospital using the new TAVR procedure.   Prior to her procedure, Mrs. Hernandez had been experiencing shortness of breath and weakness, which eventually led to her falling last June.  “I had been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation but had no idea how severe it was,” says Mrs. Hernandez. “I have other underlying medical conditions including fibromyalgia and arthritis and didn’t have a walker to walk with, so I just assumed that is why I was finding it difficult to breath and feeling weak. I never thought that my heart was the cause.”

It was during a routine visit with Electrophysiologist, Dr. Edward Kim, when Mrs. Hernandez found out that the symptoms she was experiencing were actually symptoms of aortic stenosis.  Her husband, Ramon Hernandez, who also has heart conditions was scheduled that same day with Dr. Kim to have a sonogram. After seeing her husband’s sonogram, Mrs. Hernandez asked Dr. Kim if they could do a sonogram of her heart as well. It was at that time she was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis.  Once diagnosed, she was referred to cardiologist Dr. Patrick Hu who is a part of the TAVR team at Riverside Community Hospital.  After seeing her report and speaking with Mrs. Hernandez, he immediately scheduled her that day for an angiogram test.  Dr. Hu explained to her how severe her case was and told her she needed to start treatment immediately and that she was going to need to be admitted to the hospital. “I believe it’s important to be your own advocate. I’m always taking down notes and asking questions when I see my doctor, and this time I’m glad I did,” said Mrs. Hernandez.  Dr. Hu explained to her that RCH now offered the TAVR procedure as an alternative to open-heart surgery and that the procedure was minimally invasive. 

On the day of her procedure, the TAVR team was comprised of three physicians: Dr. Syed Bokhari, Dr. Patrick Hu and Dr. Shankha Biswas.

 Mrs. Hernandez spent two days recovering in the hospital and was later discharged on Thursday, January 18. “This is a huge break-through for the hospital,” said Mr. Hernandez. “What impressed us the most was the time the TAVR team took to make sure our whole family felt comfortable with the procedure and understood exactly what was going on.  My wife and I were reassured and knew that she was in good hands. Everyone worked together to do their job beautifully.”  

“Mrs. Hernandez was one of our first three TAVR patients. All three patients have done very well and were discharged after only a couple of days of hospitalization,” says Dr. Bokhari. “We will continue to follow up with them to see how they are recovering.”


“This is an exciting time for us.  With the recent opening of our new 105-bed patient tower and the introduction of TAVR procedure, this is another example of our continued commitment to bringing the latest advanced technology to offer a higher level of quality service to the patients in our region,” says Patrick Brilliant, CEO. “High-risk patients in need of aortic heart valve replacement now have new hope and a much less invasive alternative to open heart surgery. For patients with aortic stenosis, particularly when open-heart surgery is not an option, the TAVR procedure offers a better quality of life and extends life expectancy. Additionally, patients that once had to drive long distances for advanced services can now find them closer to home right here at Riverside Community Hospital.”

 “Riverside Community Hospital continues to advance its services for patients facing serious health conditions,” says Saba Habis, MD, Chief Medical Officer.

“With amazing physicians and nurses, patients in the community and surrounding areas do not have to go far from home to receive the best medical care” added CJ Lee, VP of Business Development.

To learn more about TAVR at Riverside Community Hospital, visit Riverside Community Hospital or call 951-495-TAVR (8287) for more information.

About Riverside Community Hospital

Riverside Community Hospital has been serving the Southern California community for over 110 years with a staff of over 2,000 employees, 500 physicians and over 200 specialties. Through their passion of providing the most comprehensive, quality healthcare and commitment in investing in the latest technologic advances in medicine, Riverside Community Hospital has been recognized as a Top Performing Hospital on Key Quality Measures for three consecutive years in a row by The Joint Commission.

RCH houses one of the largest Emergency Room and Trauma Center in the Inland Empire at 50 treatment rooms.  RCH is the largest STEMI (heart attack) receiving center and is a fully accredited Chest Pain Center.  Specialty services include the HeartCare Institute, offering invasive and non-invasive cardiac procedures, Center of Excellence for Surgical Weight Loss, the Transplant Program, the Cancer Center and a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Riverside Community Hospital is also committed to training the next generation of physicians through its Graduate Medic