El Segundo, CA (PressExposure) June 16, 2009 -- During the next 15 years, approximately 76 million Americans will turn sixty years of age. One of the health challenges that will confront the âBaby Boomâ generation is heart valve disease.
Today, it is estimated that over 250,000 heart valve procedures are performed each year for disorders including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation. One of the more common forms of heart valve disease is mitral valve prolapse which results in an improper seal of the mitral leaflets. A condition commonly referred to as leaky heart valves.
Often times, this condition is benign. In other cases, mitral prolapse can trigger severe patient symptoms as blood flows back into the heart â also known as mitral regurgitaiton. Left untreated, mitral regurgitation can cause stroke, sudden death, irregular heartbeat, damage to the heart muscle and congestive heart failure.
To treat moderate-to-severe cases of mitral regurgitation, the patientâs heart valve can be repaired or replaced using traditional open-heart surgery procedures.
âOpen heart surgery is the opposite of fun,â notes Adam Pick, author of The Patientâs Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. âThat is why Iâm so excited about the non-invasive technologies being developed, tested, studied and deployed at leading heart care centers,â Pick said.
To reduce recovery time, incision discomfort and physical trauma to the chest, Pick notes that two companies â Intuitive Surgical, Inc. and Evalve, Inc. â have made it their mission to ease the patient process specific to mitral valve repair surgery.
The da Vinci Surgical System, manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, is a high-tech robot that enables surgeons to perform minimally invasive surgery through small, one-to-two centimeter incisions, without spreading or cutting the breastbone or ribs, thereby minimizing blood loss, pain and scarring.
Unlike the da Vinci, which was recently featured on Greyâs Anatomy, Evalve, based in Menlo Park, California, takes a completely different approach to mitral valve repair through its unique MitraClip technology. Using a cathether-based approach, this device âclips' the leaky valves of the mitral valve together without major surgery.
"The obvious advantage is that [the MitraClip] is less invasive than open-heart surgery and patients can heal quicker," said Dr Scott Lim, a cardiologist at the University of Virginia Health System. "The procedure is done on an outpatient basis with an overnight observation. Patients can go home the very next day with no pain from open chest surgery."
The MitraClip system is currently available in Europe. As for the United States and Canada, the MitraClip is undergoing clinical study. Reports suggest that the MitraClip could get FDA approval by 2010 or 2011.
âI speak with thousands of heart valve surgery patients each year,â notes Pick, who runs an interactive blog dedicated to heart valve disease (http://www.heart-valve-surgery.com/heart-surgery-blog/). âThose discussions suggest that the patient community is very, very, very excited by these unique, less invasive approaches for mitral valve repair.â