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Married couple shares heart problem, valve procedures

A Greenwood Township couple had the same heart problem, doctor, and medical procedures.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Pa. — Peter and Leslie Mastroianni have shared a lot over 45 years of marriage. But as of two years ago, they share something else, his and her heart procedures.

Both Peter and Leslie dealt with aortic stenosis, which is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening.

"At that time, surgery was the only option available to somebody my age," he said. 

In 2019, the couple's doctor told them about transcatheter aortic valve replacement or TAVR, which is an alternative to open-heart surgery. Peter Mastroianni had the procedure first, and his wife six months later.

"When you have a partner going through it, Peter told me what it was going to be like, which was nothing. You don't even feel anything," Leslie Mastroianni said.

The couple was both treated by Geisinger Dr. Shikhar Agarwal, who said TAVR is a minimally-invasive procedure.

"We can go in through a puncture site in the groin using an artery, and essentially go up through the aortic valve area, and then implant the aortic valve in," Dr. Agarwal said.

Recently, Geisinger doctors hit a milestone - performing their 1,000th TAVR procedure. 

"I joined Geisinger in 2016, and we were probably at 400-500 cases by then. And the last five years, we have more than doubled our volume and really have had a great journey," Dr. Agarwal said. 

Since their surgeries, the Mastroianni couple said they are feeling great and have become advocates for the TAVR procedure. They also said they're grateful for Dr. Agarwal. 

"From the start, I just felt extremely easy with [Dr. Agarwal], and that added to the easiness of the whole thing. If they were in football, they'd be a Super Bowl team. That's what they'd be," the couple said.

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