Revolutionizing Treatment for Mitral Valve Regurgitation
In the past, patients with mitral valve regurgitation who weren’t candidates for surgery had limited treatment options. Fortunately, The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) now offers the MitraClip® procedure, a new treatment.
Mitral valve regurgitation is a common heart disorder that occurs when the mitral valve of the heart doesn’t close properly. The mitral valve is located on the left side of the heart, and blood flows through the valve to move from the left atrium to the left ventricle.
When a person has mitral valve regurgitation, blood flows backward into the atrium—instead of forward into the ventricle—as the heart contracts. This abnormal blood flow signals the heart to pump harder to get more blood out and into the body, which causes stress on the body.
Signs of Mitral Valve Regurgitation
How would you know if your heart isn’t pumping blood effectively? For some people, mitral valve regurgitation occurs suddenly after a heart attack. For many others, though, symptoms develop gradually.
People with mitral valve regurgitation may experience:
- Shortness of breath, particularly during activity or when lying down
- Chest discomfort
- Fatigue, particularly during activity
- Heart murmurs
- Heart palpitations
- Swollen feet or legs
Surveying the Treatment Options
For patients with mild cases of mitral valve regurgitation, sometimes no treatment is necessary. In those cases, the condition will simply be carefully monitored.
In severe cases, there have traditionally been two types of treatment to repair or replace the mitral valve—open-heart surgery or a heart port procedure. Both of these options are invasive and not appropriate for some patients.
The open-heart procedure, which requires the patient to be placed on a heart-lung machine, involves a large incision in the middle of the chest. The mitral valve is either repaired by a surgeon during the procedure or replaced with a tissue valve or metal valve.
The heart port procedure also requires placing the patient on a heart-lung machine, but the incision is smaller and on the side of the chest.
But not all patients are appropriate candidates for invasive surgery. Thankfully, The Heart Center of NGMC offers another option—MitraClip.
The MitraClip Difference
Formally called transcatheter mitral valve repair with MitraClip therapy, the MitraClip procedure provides patients with a less-invasive treatment alternative.
During the procedure, a skilled interventional cardiologist threads a small tube (called a catheter) to your heart through a vein in your groin. Using the catheter, the cardiologist places a small clip or multiple clips on the mitral valve to lessen or eliminate leakage.
With MitraClip, patients are typically discharged from the hospital after one or two days, and total recovery takes about a week.
“Northeast Georgia Medical Center was the third hospital in Georgia to develop a MitraClip program, and it’s one of the busiest programs in the Southeast,” says J. Alan Wolfe, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. “The procedure has benefited so many patients who would otherwise have had no option for treatment. These patients experience an improved quality of life and fewer hospitalizations for heart failure symptoms.”
To request an appointment with a cardiologist at The Heart Center of NGMC, call 770-534-2020 or visit heartngmc.org/appointment.
Cardiothoracic Surgeons – View
Interventional Cardiologists – View
Call the Heart & Vascular Services department at 770-219-5416 or fill out our contact form for more information.