'Clip away' heart ops blues

'Clip away' heart ops blues

KUALA LUMPUR - HEART patients can now "clip" their leaking valves instead of going through major surgery involving the vital organ.

The National Heart Institute (IJN) yesterday announced a new technique to treat coronary heart disease (CHD) using a device called the Mitra-clip.

It's chief executive officer, Tan Sri Dr Robaayah Zambahari, said that CHD (also known as heart valve disease) occurs when one or more of the heart valves do not work well.

"Basically, the heart has four valves: the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral and aortic valves. Mitral valve is one of the most important valves as it separates the left atrium from the left ventricle, which ensures that the blood flows in only one direction.

"However, for patients with Mitral valve regurgitation, their heart valve does not close tightly, which causes blood to leak back into the chamber rather than flowing forward through the heart or artery," she said at a press conference.

She explained that the Mitra-clip was a non-surgical technique to treat patients with leaking mitral valves, which gives a better option for patients with high risk for surgery.

The technique basically uses a clip, which is attached to a cable and introduced into the left ventricle to grip on the mitral valve leaflets, which would narrow the size of the opening and plug the leak.

Dr Robaayah said the whole procedure was done via a vein in the leg, thus eliminating the need for open heart surgery.

She said the new procedure was unlike the current treatment -- the Alfiery, which involves stitching the valve to seal off the leakage.

IJN recently applied the new procedure to seven patients with leaking mitral valves since introducing it on Dec 14.

The procedure has proved successful without any complications, she said.

"The new method provides an option for patients who do not want to undergo open heart surgery. The new method is safe," she said, adding that the treatment would cost at least RM150,000 (S$61,000) per patient.

Dr Robaayah said last year, IJN had performed 264 valve replacement surgeries, 162 valve repair surgeries and 41 mitral valvuloplasty procedures to treat patients suffering from valve disease.

IJN consultant cardiologist Datuk Dr Amin Ariff said the newly-introduced procedure was also safer for patients and was equally effective as an open heart procedure.

"It is also more helpful for the frail and elderly, whose recovery from open heart surgery can take several months."

The Mitra-clip is the world's first percutaneous valve repair system which received the European Union CE mark approval in 2008 and approximately 4,000 clips had been used worldwide, including in the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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