First published in the Sept. 17 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Content provided by Adventist Health Glendale
When 84-year-old former naval officer, TV news anchor for NBC and Toluca Lake resident Robert “Bob” Basso began having difficulty with his balance and struggling with extreme fatigue, he knew something was terribly wrong.
“I’ve always been a fit guy, taking good care of my body,” Basso said. “So, I knew my body was telling me that I was declining.”
Fortunately, Basso went to his cardiologist who diagnosed him with aortic stenosis and referred him to Dr. Hambik Tankazyan, interventional cardiologist and structural heart disease specialist at Adventist Health Glendale.
“Aortic stenosis occurs when plaque or calcium buildup causes the valve to narrow,” Tankazyan said. “Sometimes it doesn’t produce any symptoms until the condition is quite severe. Bob was fortunate in that he recognized his symptoms were cause for concern and had them checked out.”
Tankazyan determined that Basso would be a good candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. Unlike traditional valve replacement, which requires open heart surgery, TAVR is minimally invasive, resulting in faster recovery, fewer complications and a quicker return to normal activities. During the procedure, an artificial valve is placed in the diseased one using a thin, flexible tube called a catheter guided through tiny incisions in the groin.
After careful consideration and a lot of research, Basso agreed that TAVR would be the best course of action for him. And when he first set foot in Adventist Health Glendale, one of the few hospitals in the area that perform TAVR and one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation for cardiac care according to HealthGrades, he knew he had made the right decision.
“There’s an expression we use in the Navy,” he said. “When you step onto a ship, you know right away whether it’s a good ship or a troubled ship. When I walked into Adventist Health Glendale, I immediately had a very calming feeling that this is a special place.”
Two and a half hours after his procedure, Basso declared he felt great. “It was miraculous. It felt like my whole body had been relieved of this pressure. I felt so good that I was ready to get up and get dressed and walk out of there, but Dr. Tankazyan made me stay overnight,” he said with a laugh.
If you have symptoms that concern you, such as fatigue, shortness of breath or dizziness, Basso and Tankazyan encourage you to see your doctor as soon as possible. “If we can see and diagnose you early, the better chance you’ll have for a good outcome like Bob’s,” Tankazyan said.
Since his procedure in April 2021, Basso has been doing very well and enjoying the activities he loves.
“I can’t thank Dr. Tankazyan and Adventist Health Glendale enough,” he said. “Everyone I met there, from the volunteers to the registration people to the nurses and doctors, was genuinely caring and concerned for my well-being. It felt like family.”