Bryan D. Raybuck, MD, FACC, FSCAI, is board certified in interventional cardiology.
This month, the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute is pleased to begin offering a new device to treat mitral valve disease. The procedure using this device offers a new treatment option for patients who are not good candidates for open-heart surgery.
The mitral valve is located between the atrium (upper chamber) and ventricle (lower chamber) on the left side of the heart. The valve is made up of leaflets that open and close with each heartbeat.
When the valve opens, blood flows from the heart’s atrium into the ventricle. When the valve closes, it prevents blood from returning to the atrium. But sometimes, the valve doesn’t close properly. When this happens, blood can leak back into the left atrium. This leaky mitral valve disease is known as mitral regurgitation.
Treating Leaky Mitral Valve with MitraClip
In mild cases of mitral regurgitation, the symptoms can be controlled with medications. In more serious cases, doctors might recommend surgery to repair or replace the faulty valve.
That typically means open-heart surgery, and recovery can take several months. Unfortunately, many patients aren’t good candidates for that treatment because their age or other medical conditions make surgery too risky. But now, we have a new option for treating them.
The MitraClip procedure is minimally invasive. During this procedure, we insert a thin tube, or catheter, into a large vein in the leg. Then we steer it through the blood vessels up to the heart.
Once we reach the heart, we carefully clip the mitral valve leaflets shut using the MitraClip device. The procedure allows blood to flow normally from the atrium to the ventricle but prevents blood from leaking backwards.
MitraClip is the only non-surgical option for repairing leaky mitral valves, and it’s a welcome option for patients who aren’t good candidates for surgery.
Any heart procedure carries some risk. But the risks associated with MitraClip are relatively low compared to leaving mitral regurgitation untreated. And the average hospital stay for patients receiving the MitraClip is just 3 days or fewer, compared to an average stay of 5 to 7 days for patients who have open-heart surgery to repair the valve.
Mitral Regurgitation: Signs and Symptoms
Leaky mitral valve is the most common type of heart valve disease. About 4 million people in the United States have significant mitral regurgitation.
Many people with mitral valve disease have no symptoms. But others can experience symptoms including:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Racing or irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
In severe cases, the leaky heart valve can cause heart failure and premature death.
Personalized Heart Treatment
The Inova Heart and Vascular Institute is the first hospital system in northern Virginia to offer the Mitraclip. We will begin implanting the device into patients this month, and expect that this procedure will benefit a large number of people.
Already, we are national leaders in valve repair, with repair rates above the national average. Each of our patients receives personalized care from a dedicated heart team that includes:
- Interventional cardiologists
- Heart surgeons
- Valve clinic nurses
- Nurse practitioners
- Cardiac anesthesiologists
- Care coordinators
While we’re excited to add MitraClip to our treatment options, this is just one more piece of our comprehensive structural heart program.
Learn more about our Valve Disease Treatment Program.