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Explore causes and timing of death from the CoreValve US Pivotal High-Risk Trial.An independent clinical events committee adjudicated causes of death, followed by post hoc hierarchical classification. Baseline characteristics, early outcomes, and causes of death were evaluated for 3 time periods (selected based on threshold of surgical 30-day mortality and on the differences in the continuous hazard between the 2 groups): early (0–30 days), recovery (31–120 days), and late (121–365 days).Differences in the rate of death were evident only during the recovery period (31–120 days), whereas 15 patients undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) (4.0%) and 27 surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) patients (7.9%) died (P = .025). This mortality difference was largely driven by higher rates of technical failure, surgical complications, and lack of recovery following surgery. From 0 to 30 days, the causes of death were more technical failures in the TAVR group and lack of recovery in the SAVR group. Mortality in the late period (121–365 days) in both arms was most commonly ascribed to other circumstances, comprising death from medical complications from comorbid disease.Mortality at 1 year in the CoreValve US Pivotal High-Risk Trial favored TAVR over SAVR. The major contributor was that more SAVR patients died during the recovery period (31–121 days), likely affected by the overall influence of physical stress associated with surgery. Similar rates of technical failure and complications were observed between the 2 groups. This suggests that early TAVR results can improve with technical refinements and that high-risk surgical patients will benefit from reducing complications.