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Using a High-Tech “Clothes Pin” to Repair Leaky Hearts

For years, the solution to mitral regurgitation has been open-heart surgery. Those who aren’t good surgical candidates—often because their heart is too weak or damaged—often end up simply living with the debilitating symptoms of heart failure.

At Providence St. Jude Medical Center there is another option: a miniature clothespin-like device that attaches to the mitral valve to help it close more completely and restore normal blood flow. Called MitraClip, the dime-sized clip is implanted via a catheter threaded through a vein near the hip and successfully prevents the backward flow or regurgitation of blood by fastening together the valve’s leaky flaps.

“Not only does MitraClip significantly reduce or eliminate the shortness of breath and fatigue that are common with mitral regurgitation, it offers all the benefits of a minimally-invasive approach,” explains Aidan Raney, MD, FACC, an interventional cardiologist who routinely performs procedure. Patients often spend just one night in the hospital, resume daily activities quickly, and typically see improvement in symptoms within days.

When the heart weakens—whether from a heart attack, virus or other conditions—it often causes the mitral valve to stop working efficiently. The result is mitral regurgitation, making it even harder for the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands—and further weakening the heart. Left untreated, the condition can significantly increase mortality while destroying quality of life.

“Seeing patients regain the energy to live their lives is definitely the best part,” explains Dr. Raney, who helps lead the St. Jude Valve Clinic. “Open heart surgery remains the gold standard for repairing the mitral valve when it leaks, but having a minimally-invasive option for patients who are higher risk—one that is creating very good outcomes—is exciting.”

Patients with mitral regurgitation or other forms of heart disease are presented at the hospital’s cardiac team meeting—which includes experts in cardiothoracic surgery, interventional cardiology, echocardiography, and cardiology—offering patients the ultimate second opinion. “Because we involve multiple specialties in developing the right treatment plan,” explains Dr. Raney, “our patients benefit from the collective experience and expertise of a cardiac program named one of the nation’s best.”

To make an appointment with Aidan Raney, MD, FACC, board-certified cardiologist specializing in advanced interventional cardiology, please call (714) 543-5555.

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