Heart valve replacements and repairs have become commonplace. But, now there is a new option for patients who are not good candidates for surgery.
Blood from 89-year-old Dero Murphy’s heart was going the wrong way – backwards.
“The primary mitral valve disease that we see – people are probably born with, but it isn’t evident until much later in life,” said Catherine Otto, MD, UW Heart Valve Clinic Director.
Otto said that surgery is her first choice when it comes to treatment, but now there is a mechanical fix for patients considered too “high risk” for surgery.
The device looks like a high-tech fly fishing rod with a clip on the other end. The clip is threaded through a vein in the groin all the way up to heart valve where it does its job.
“The way a MitraClip works is to literally clip the valve leaflets so they no longer are allowing blood to flow backwards,” explained Dr. Mark Reisman, Clinical Professor of Medicine at UW.
Murphy called the operation a “miracle." His daughter, said that prior to the procedure he had trouble eating, moving around and that his energy levels were very low.
“People usually feel better right away,” Otto said. “There may be further improvements over the next 6-12 months, as their heart remodels and adapts. But a lot of the improvements happen right away.”
Reisman was one of the first physicians in the country to perform the MitraClip procedure. It is available at the University of Washington Medical Center and at Swedish Medical Center.