FOR some patients suffering with the most common form of heart valve disease, the outlook is not good.

But for Goodworth Clatford grandfather Jim Fulford pioneering heart surgery has given him a new lease of life.

Three years ago Mr Fulford, aged 78, began suffering from breathlessness and chest pain, symptoms of aortic stenosis (AS).

He had noticed that walking up the hill to his home in St Annes Close had become more difficult and sought medical advice.

He was diagnosed with severe AS but was too poorly to undergo open heart surgery as he had had a triple coronary artery bypass graft 10 years ago and had recently suffered a stroke.

Instead Mr Fulford had a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) at Southampton General Hospital, which is one of just a few hospitals to offer the surgery.

And after five days he returned home from hospital.

Mr Fulford, who after the operation was able to work out at the Andover War Memorial Hospital gym, urged people to get their symptoms checked out: “I would say go and have it done.

Obviously, talk to the GP and specialist.

The specialist was very good at explaining what’s going on.”

And Mr Fulford was so impressed with his care that he wrote to Southampton General Hospital’s chief executive and Andover MP Sir George Young.

AS affects many older people but often goes unrecognised and undiagnosed.

Many people ignore the symptoms of the disease as they associate it with ageing.

But the symptoms are a sign of heart valve disease and once diagnosed, few people live longer than two years.

The treatment for AS is open heart surgery to replace the faulty or damaged aortic valve, but as many of the patients are elderly, some are too frail to go through with this surgery.

The TAVI procedure is a minimally invasive heart valve replacement procedure.