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Winthrop-University Hospital Improves Lives of Patients Suffering from MR with Minimally Invasive New Treatment - Archived
July 8, 2014

Physicians at Winthrop are among the first in the United States to offer patients suffering from mitral regurgitation (MR) and congestive heart failure a breakthrough new minimally invasive treatment – the Abbott MitraClip. MR is a debilitating, progressive and life-threatening disease in which a leaky mitral valve causes a reversal of flow, sending blood from the heart back to the lungs, where it causes congestion. Using MitraClip, Winthrop physicians were able to repair the mitral valve without the need for an open-heart surgical procedure. The three patients who received the MitraClip at Winthrop mark the first three commercially implanted devices on Long Island.

“This technology is another example of the outstanding and truly cutting-edge cardiology services that Winthrop provides, one which significantly improves the quality of life for our patients and offers hope when other treatments, including surgery, are not a good option,” said Srihari S. Naidu, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FAHA, Director, Cardiac Catheterization at Winthrop, who was among the team to recently perform the first MitraClip procedures at the Hospital. The rest of the team includes interventional cardiologist Daniel Donohue, MD; cardiothoracic surgeon William Kokotos, MD, Director of Academic Affairs for the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery; cardiologist Juan Gaztanaga, MD, Director, Cardiac MRI/CT; and cardiologist George Gubernikoff, MD, Director, Clinical Cardiac Services.

“The heart will function better, as there is less leakiness, and our patients have seen and felt a near immediate improvement in what they are able to do,” said Dr. Donohue.

Symptoms of MR include difficulty breathing and extreme fatigue, and the traditional treatment has been open surgery. However, many patients are at too high a risk for a full surgical procedure, or are simply not candidates for open surgery, so the condition can be hard or impossible to treat in these patients. This new treatment, which received FDA approval in late 2013, can bring about a significant change in the quality of life for a patient suffering from MR, comparable to surgical repair.

The Mitraclip device is delivered to the heart through the femoral vein, a blood vessel in the leg, and once implanted, allows the heart to pump blood more efficiently, thereby relieving symptoms and improving patient quality of life. Patients undergoing MitraClip treatment typically experience short recovery times and short hospital stays of three days or less.

The MitraClip device has been approved for U.S. patients with severe symptomatic degenerative MR who are at prohibitive risk for mitral valve surgery, although other types of MR including functional MR have also been treated in worldwide experience. Degenerative MR is a type of MR caused by an anatomic defect of the mitral valve of the heart that gets progressively worse over time. Prohibitive risk is determined by the clinical judgment of a heart team due to the presence of one or more documented surgical risk factors.

MR can raise the risk of irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure, which can be deadly. MR is common, affecting more than four million Americans – nearly one in ten people aged 75 and above. Open heart mitral valve surgery is the standard of care treatment for those with significant MR, but many patients are at prohibitive risk of an invasive procedure at, before the advent of the MitraClip, were treated with medications alone. Medications for the condition are limited to symptom management, however, and do not stop the progression of the disease, so the MitraClip may be their last option, according to Dr. Naidu.

Multiple trials, published reports, and registries of patients treated with the MitraClip device consistently demonstrate a positive safety profile, reduction in mitral regurgitation, improvement in symptoms, and reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure, even in some of the most ill and debilitated patients. More than 11,000 patients in more than 30 countries have been treated with the MitraClip device. Winthrop is the first Hospital on Long Island to offer this option commercially as part of the company’s nationwide launch.

To learn more about the comprehensive services offered at Winthrop's Heart and Vascular Institute, or for a physician referral, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

Contact: Courtney Allison
Publications Specialist
(516) 663-2234