SINGAPORE - A new minimally invasive procedure for heart valve repair has been successfully performed for the first time in Asia by the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS).
A 68-year old female patient was the lucky recipient of the procedure, performed in April this year.
The procedure, called MitraClip therapy, fixes hearts with severe mitral regurgitation - a condition where the heart's mitral valve does not close properly and causes the blood to flow back to the heart.
The procedure clips a 4mm wide metallic chip onto the leaky valve, through a small incision made in the groin, hence reducing the amount of blood flowing back into the heart.
About 12 per cent of those aged 75 and above suffer from mitral regurgitation, and this number is set to rise with Singapore's aging population. If left untreated, up to 30 per cent of these patients with severe regurgitation may die within six years.
It may also cause irregular heartbeats and worsen congestive heart failure. Up to 60 per cent of those with pre-existing heart failures may die from severe mitral regurgitation in the next five years.
Patients can look forward to improvements in heart function and reduction in symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue.
According to NHCS, the MitraClip procedure is considered far safer than other available procedures, with 33 per cent less major adverse effects occurring within 30 days as compared to heart valve surgery. It also cuts down recovery time and has a lower risk of complications arising.
However, NHCS doctors said the procedure is only available for patients who are not eligible for open-heart surgery, such as those with chronic lung disease or have undergone previous heart operations, a local TV station reported.
NHCS is currently the only place in Asia offering the MitraClip procedure.