Baby Boomers Might Avoid Open Heart Surgery

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 “Baby Boom” 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 – 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 patient’s heart valve can be repaired or replaced using traditional open-heart surgery procedures.

“Open heart surgery is the opposite of fun,” notes Adam Pick, author of The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. “That is why I’m so excited about the non-invasive technologies being developed, tested, studied and deployed at leading heart care centers,” Pick said.

To reduce recovery time, incision discomfort and physical trauma to the chest, Pick notes that two companies – Intuitive Surgical, Inc. and Evalve, Inc. – 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 Grey’s 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 ‘clips' 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.

“I speak with thousands of heart valve surgery patients each year,” notes Pick, who runs an interactive blog dedicated to heart valve disease ( “Those discussions suggest that the patient community is very, very, very excited by these unique, less invasive approaches for mitral valve repair.”

About Heart Valve Surgery

Adam Pick is a double heart valve surgery patient and author of The Patient's Guide to Heart Valve Surgery. Adam also founded to help patients and their caregivers better understand the challenges and opportunities of heart valve surgery from the patient perspective. This unique website provides over 1,750 pages of complimentary information (videos, patient stories, and recovery tips, clinical research) to support patients before, during and after heart valve surgery. Mr. Pick's work is often referenced by leading surgeons at The Cleveland Clinic, the University of Southern California Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital. You can contact me at anytime.

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Press Release Submitted On: June 15, 2009 at 6:39 am
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