Meet Dr. Sarah Gualano
Only a decade ago, there was little that could be done for high-risk and inoperable patients suffering from severe symptomatic aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve, says Sarah Gualano, M.D.
An interventional cardiologist, Dr. Gualano specializes in evaluating and treating valvular heart disease – particularly in performing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). UT Southwestern Medical Center now offers this pioneering minimally invasive procedure, which can significantly improve patients’ lives.
Dr. Gualano remembers a 91-year-old patient with a number of pre-existing conditions that made traditional surgical valve replacement very risky.
“Since undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement, he’s enjoying an improved quality of life and a significant reduction in the amount of shortness of breath he was experiencing. He was able to reduce doses of some of his medications, and he’s enjoying spending time with his wife – and back bowling in a league."
And that’s just one of the many life-changing stories she can tell about her patients.
As Medical Director of UT Southwestern’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab, Dr. Gualano also treats people with coronary artery disease, including those suffering heart attacks. She evaluates patients with a history of stroke and patent foramen ovale (PFO), a type of congenital heart disease, as well.
“I enjoy interventional cardiology because it allows me to make a diagnosis and treat the condition all in one procedure,” she says.
Board certified in internal medicine, interventional cardiology, and cardiovascular medicine, Dr. Gualano says the ability to quickly improve people’s quality of life is the aspect of her profession she enjoys most.
“Whether we perform coronary stenting to reduce someone’s angina or treat a heart attack, many patients notice a substantial difference in their symptoms almost immediately after their procedures,” she says.
“After a few days, even our elderly valve replacement patients often notice an improvement in their shortness of breath or other symptoms that led to valve replacement. Seeing these results make my job very rewarding.”
Dr. Gualano says she treasures the relationships she develops with patients.
“I like to spend a lot of time with my patients and connect with them on a personal level,” she says. “I try to care for each of them the way I’d want one of my family members to be cared for.”