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Revolutionary lifeline for heart patients

PUBLISHED: 16:22 16 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:56 07 September 2010

Sanchez Manning PATIENTS who have been turned down for open heart surgery have been given a second chance by an inflatable heart valve, available at St Mary's Hospital. A new procedure to replace the heart valve of patients with aortic stenosis has been i

Sanchez Manning

PATIENTS who have been turned down for open heart surgery have been given a second chance by an inflatable heart valve, available at St Mary's Hospital.

A new procedure to replace the heart valve of patients with aortic stenosis has been introduced at the Paddington hospital.

The minimally invasive technique called TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) will treat patients who are considered too high-risk to have traditional surgery.

The operation involves a small incision being made into the patient's groin or the apex of the heart, and the installation of an artificial valve using a catheter.

The valve consists of three leaflets inside a metal cage called a stent, which is mounted on a balloon.

Once the new valve is in position, the balloon is inflated, crushing the old valve against the wall of the aorta and replacing it with the new one.

Dr Ghada Mikhail, cardiologist and programme lead for TAVI, said: "As this new technology develops we hope to be able to offer this procedure not only to older and higher risk patients, but also to a wider group of lower risk patients." Aortic stenosis happens when one of the valves in the heart - the aortic valve - narrows, restricting the flow of blood through and making the heart pump harder.

"These attacks can lead to breathlessness, chest pain, dizziness, blackouts and ultimately heart failure."

The development of aortic stenosis is often age-related as deposits of calcium build up in the valves of some older people making the aortic valve stiff and difficult to open.

If the condition goes untreated, the prognosis for the sufferer is very poor.

Traditionally, aortic valves are replaced via open heart surgery, involving a bigger incision in the patient's chest, putting the patient's heart on bypass and a prolonged period of rehabilitation.

But people having the TAVI procedure could have a shorter recovery period and potentially less time in hospital.

Patients need to be referred to St Mary's Hospital to have the operation, but anyone who wants more details should contact the cardiology department on 020-7886 1929.


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