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As an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology, Dr. Vavalle will serve as one of the medical directors of the new TAVR Program at UNC.

As an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology, Dr. Vavalle will serve as one of the medical directors of the new TAVR Program at UNC.

John P. Vavalle, MD, MHS

UNC Heart & Vascular is pleased to welcome John P. Vavalle, MD, MHS who joined the division of cardiology in July 2014.

As a faculty member in cardiology, Dr. Vavalle will treat patients needing percutaneous coronary interventions, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, percutaneous closure of atrial and ventricular septal defects, patent foramen ovale, paravalvular leaks, patent ductus arteriosis, and coronary fistulas. In addition, he can perform alcohol septal ablation for the treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, aortic and mitral balloon valvuloplasty, and percutaneous repair of the mitral valve (MitraClip).

“I was attracted to cardiology as a medical student because of the detailed understanding of physiology that it requires,” says Dr. Vavalle. “As a cardiologist, I am able to integrate what I observe from the physical diagnosis at the bedside with what we learn from non-invasive imaging and invasive hemodynamic assessments. Most importantly, I am able to care for critically ill patients and provide immediate, life-saving, therapies to those in need. I hope to offer my patients a compassionate ear, an honest assessment, and my fullest commitment to providing the best care possible.”

Dr. Vavalle also serves as one of the medical directors of the new Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Program at UNC. In partnership with Thomas Caranasos, MD in the division of UNC cardiothoracic surgery, and Michael Yeung, MD, in the UNC department of cardiology, Dr. Vavalle is working to build the TAVR Program at UNC.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a new technology that provides a treatment option for many patients with aortic valve stenosis who previously had no other treatment option, or were at high risk for standard open surgical valve replacement due to advanced age, frailty, or co-morbid illness. With TAVR, physicians now have the ability to provide aortic valve replacement via minimally-invasive approaches, including percutaneous procedures (intervention without an incision), which provide outcomes that are as good, or possibly even better than, surgical valve replacement.

The TAVR Program at UNC will stand out from others in that this procedure is ideally suited for an academic medical center with a collaborative approach to patient care, such as that found at the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care. The foundation for the TAVR Program was laid with the formation of the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care which brought together cardiac surgery, cardiology, interventional radiology, and vascular surgery all under one roof to provide the most comprehensive care possible. This multidisciplinary team at one of the world’s leading academic medical centers allows each member to contribute their individual knowledge, expertise, and resources to provide the best patient care.

Dr. Vavalle says, “I am passionate about being able to provide TAVR to those with severe aortic valve stenosis who are not good candidates for standard open heart surgery. Aortic stenosis is currently under-recognized and under-treated and carries with it a very poor prognosis once symptoms develop if left untreated.”

He adds, “Having lost family members to this disease prior to the availability of TAVR, I know first-hand how life-changing and life-saving TAVR can be. As the population ages and the prevalence of aortic stenosis increases, I am committed to providing the highest level of care in our TAVR program to the people of North Carolina and beyond.”

A unique fact about Dr. Vavalle is that all of his medical training was completed in the Triangle. He attended medical school at the University of North Carolina and also completed his internal medicine residency at UNC, serving as chief resident as well. He then completed a cardiovascular disease fellowship, clinical research fellowship, and Master of Health Sciences program at Duke University before starting fellowships in interventional cardiology and transcatheter valvular & structural interventions.

Dr. Vavalle’s wife, Emily Sickbert‐Bennett, is the Associate Director of the UNC Hospital Epidemiology program and together, they are proud parents of two young children. Dr. Vavalle says, “I enjoy rooting for the Tar Heels, coaching my son’s baseball team, gardening with my daughter, and traveling abroad.”