Study supports fixing heart valves without surgery

Study supports fixing heart valves without surgery

Cebu : Philippines | Apr 04, 2011 at 9:14 PM PDT
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Aortic Valve Stenosis

Skooter report 04/05/11

Cardiologists are anxious to report another medical break through. A new study suggests that many people with a diseased aortic valve, the heart's main gate, do not have to undergo open-heart surgery and instead have a new one placed through a tube in an artery.

There is a negative aspect however, a higher risk of stroke and vagueness about how long these valves will last. If the new valve wins federal approval as doctors predicted, patients would welcome it as they did balloon angioplasty, where millions of clogged arteries were fixed without passing through an operation.

Dr. Craig Smith, heart surgery chief at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital led the study and gave results Sunday at an American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans.

As you age, the aortic valve can harden and narrow, making the heart strain to pump blood through it. In severe cases, the valve need to be replaced and are treated with surgery but that's too risky for many older people who have this problem. Without an operation, half die within two years.

The study found a way to fix in place a new valve without surgery. Dr. Edward McNulty, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, explained how it works:

Through an artery in the groin or the chest, "a new heart valve is literally crimped on a balloon and advanced across the narrowed, older, diseased heart valve. The balloon is inflated and the new valve left in place." The approach is gentler in people who are too sick for surgery and found it greatly improved survival. The study involved about 700 people eligible but at high risk for surgery.

The valve's maker, Edwards Lifesciences Corp. of Irvine, Calif., is seeking federal approval to sell the valve for inoperable patients, and in a few months the company plans to ask the same for less ill patients.

The cost of the said valve would be $30,000 (P1,290,000) which is already used in Europe. Put the total cost with doctor fees and hospitalizations would be in the neighborhood of $73,563 or P3,163,209. This is a prohibitive price for us Filipinos, Skooter thought.

The new study is only a one year results and doctors warned that it will take at least five more years of study to know whether these less invasive treatments will be as good as surgically implanted valves that typically last 20 years.

Indeed for people who are too sick to have surgery, the new approach would be great, but it’s too early to say if it should be used in less sick patients, said Dr. Elliott Antman, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital cardiologist and American Heart Association spokesman.

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skooter is based in Cebu, Central Visayas, Philippines, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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