LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 9, 2013) —The Saint Joseph Heart Institute, part of KentuckyOne Health, has successfully completed a new heart procedure that can be an alternative for patients too ill for open-heart surgery. Part of a clinical trial, it is the first time in Kentucky the minimally invasive MitraClip procedure has been completed.
The MitraClip is a small metal clip that helps patients with mitral regurgitation (MR), a condition where the heart’s mitral valve leaflets do not close tightly, causing blood to leak into the heart’s left atrium and can lead to advanced heart failure.
This new treatment expands the options for selected patients with MR, especially those who are not candidates for invasive open-heart surgery. The procedure allows doctors to use catheter-based technology to repair the mitral valve, without the need for patients to undergo cardiopulmonary bypass.
The MitraClip procedure shortens recovery time and ultimately improves quality of life for those experiencing life-altering symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath.
With MitraClip and the recently introduced Trans Catheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure, Saint Joseph physicians like Dr. Robert Salley, M.D., executive director of Cardiovascular Services, are now able to treat a number of serious heart conditions with minimally invasive methods.
“This is the first time that we’ve had an ability to manage this problem for patients too ill to undergo open heart surgery,” said Dr. Salley. “In the past, the only option to help patients with congestive heart failure was to band-aid the symptoms with medication. This is a huge opportunity to increase the health and quality of life for many patients.”
During the MitraClip procedure, a physician will use traditional catheter methods to guide the clip into the left atrium. The clip is lowered and attached to the valve to repair or reduce MR. Before final placement, the clip can be moved and rotated to ensure optimal fit.
MR is the most common type of heart-valve insufficiency in the United States, affecting approximately 4 million people. This condition cannot be medically treated, and previously could only be repaired with open-heart surgery on patients who were otherwise physically healthy.
“I was short of breath everywhere I went, often in a wheelchair or walker,” said 74-year-old Doris Vastine. She had seen cardiologists for several years, attributing her difficulties to trouble with a heart valve. She underwent the procedure on Sept. 18. Two days later, Vastine said, “I was back home, with a lot more energy and I could actually breathe again.”
TAVR patients already benefiting from procedure
The new MitraClip clinical trial comes just months after the announcement that Saint Joseph also would provide non-invasive catheter-based surgery for trans catheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which helps patients with severe aortic stenosis, also known as narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart.
During this procedure, a biological valve is inserted through a catheter and implanted within a diseased aortic valve, allowing for valve replacement without traditional open-heart surgery and while the heart is beating, therefore avoiding cardiopulmonary bypass. It is the only valve replacement option for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are not well enough to undergo traditional open-heart surgery. Most patients will avoid any surgery in their chest.
Without surgery, 50 percent of untreated patients will die within an average of two years.
Combining the Jewish and Catholic heritages of the two former systems, KentuckyOne Health was formed in early 2012 when Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System came together. In late 2012, it formed a partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital | James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The nonprofit system has more than 200 locations including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies, with nearly 15,000 employees across the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is the largest health system in Kentucky and has more than 3,100 licensed beds.