An Innovation That Is Making Non-invasive Treatment of MR a Possibility

Transcatheter mitral valve repair therapy, is a non-invasive treatment option available for patients who can not undergo traditional surgery

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Healthy Heart | Apr. 22, 2022

Mitral valve regurgitation, a condition where the blood flows backward instead of flowing forward is the most common heart valve disorder affecting over 2% of the general population globally, increasing with age.

Mitral valve regurgitation [MR] occurs when the heart flaps do not close tightly. This leads to an alteration in the size and shape of the valve, which results in blood leak or backward flow of blood into the left atrium. A mitral valve disorder pushes the heart to pump that much harder, and  can lead to atrial fibrillation or heart failure. If the disease causes severe symptoms, the doctor may recommend a procedure to replace or repair the dysfunctional valve.

Minimally invasive technologies improving treatment access

Open-heart surgery is the standard go-to treatment for MR.

A contemporary survey in 877 patients shows that as many as a half of symptomatic patients presenting with severe MR could not undergo surgery because of high surgical risk factors such as old age, frailty, condition of the heart, kidney function, and comorbidities.

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Another factor that rules out receiving traditional treatment is the medical history of a bypass surgery which may make the patient unfit for redoing an open-heart surgery. While medication can help manage the symptoms, it does not fix the leaky valve. 

Today, innovations in healthcare technologies that do not require opening up the heart, are helping and treating patients suffering from mitral valve diseases. One such technology is transcatheter mitral valve repair therapy. This therapy delivers a minimally invasive option for patients who suffer from primary or secondary mitral valve regurgitations and are left untreated. It provides doctors the technology to treat the condition using a unique clip system with a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) delivery system. The catheter is inserted from a vein and guided through expert imaging to the malfunctioning valve.

How does the therapy work and its advantages?

This transcatheter mitral valve technology is an alternative for open-heart surgery. The device is delivered to the heart through a small incision in the leg. It works by clipping together a portion of the mitral valve leaflets to reduce the backflow of blood, which allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently.

This procedure benefits patients who need the treatment most but are incapable to undergo surgery due to advanced age or frailty and other complicating factors. The advantage of this technology is that it is not only less invasive and painful than open-heart surgery, but also has reduced recovery and hospital stay time. It demonstrates an immediate improvement in symptoms and quality of life soon after the procedure. Backed by results from the COAPT trial, treated patients can leave the hospital in just two days after the procedure. There is also a 51% decrease in patients' hospitalisations due to heart failure for those treated with this therapy. 

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Transcatheter mitral valve repair technology is a ray of hope for patients who cannot receive treatment for their MR condition. Physicians have an option of a technology that keeps the survival rates and patients out of hospitals, and patients have the option of a new treatment that improves their quality of life.

It gives thousands of people the access to receive treatment even if they are unfit for surgery and get back to their routine lives. While the size of technology is becoming smaller with every innovation, its impact is enormous on patient lives.

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