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Structural Heart & Valve Center

St. Francis Structural Heart & Valve Center is the first facility in the Chattahoochee Valley to offer procedures treating heart valves. With a team of specialists, including cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists, we are working together to develop individualized care to provide patients with high quality, comprehensive cardiovascular care. In November 2020, our facility performed the first Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) without open-heart surgery in the Valley.

Treatment Options

  • Mitral valve repair
  • Mitral valve replacement (MVR)
  • Tricuspid valve repair and tricuspid valve replacement (TVR)
  • Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

What is TAVR?

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement also referred to as TAVR, is a treatment for severe symptomatic aortic stenosis patients providing a minimally invasive treatment option. Aortic stenosis is sometimes caused by the buildup of calcium (i.e., mineral deposits) on the aortic valve’s leaflets. Over time, the leaflets become stiff, which reduces their ability to fully open and close. When the leaflets don’t fully open, a person’s heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve to the rest of the body.

During TAVR, our team replaces a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly (aortic valve stenosis). In this procedure, doctors insert a catheter in your leg or chest and guide it to your heart. This technique is performed without opening the chest as in traditional open-heart surgery.

Meet the Team


Vik Chhokar, MD

Jacob Davtyan, MD

Akram Ibrahim, MD

Norma Kernels, MSN, RN
Director of Cardiovascular Services

Breanna Miller, BSN, RN
Structural Heart Coordinator