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Heart specialists at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital - Madison and SSM Health Dale Michels Heart & Vascular Care are now using a less-invasive option for the treatment of patients’ leaky mitral valves. This minimally-invasive option is bringing greater relief from the debilitating symptoms of mitral regurgitation to patients who are not candidates for traditional valve repair. SSM Health cardiac specialists are able to perform a percutaneous mitral valve repair using a device called the MitraClip.

While traditional valve repair requires an open incision, repair with the MitraClip allows our surgeons to access the heart and repair the faulty valve through a blood vessel in the leg, improving your symptoms and reducing your risk of complications from heart failure.

What is Mitral Regurgitation?

The mitral valve lies between the heart’s left atrium and left ventricle and has two leaflets that open and close as the heart beats. When open, blood flows through the two leaflets from the heart’s upper chamber into the lower chamber. When the heart contracts, the valve closes.

In the case of mitral regurgitation, the leaflets do not close properly and blood flows backwards into the upper chamber. Over time, this can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. More seriously it can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, clots, infection of the heart valve or, in many cases, heart failure.

Mitral regurgitation is the most common heart valve disorder in the United States. If you’ve been diagnosed with mitral regurgitation, your physician will likely prescribe medication to control your symptoms. In severe cases, or if medication doesn’t work, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the faulty mitral valve.

Valve Repair Using MitraClip

Traditional valve repair surgery is a common procedure that has been proven both safe and effective. However, it does require incisions in the chest and a temporary stop of the heart. Because of this, it isn’t an option for everyone.

The MitraClip allows SSM Health physicians to offer the same outcome in a less invasive way. During this procedure, physicians thread a catheter from the leg to the heart and place a “clip” to decrease the backflow of blood. This clip allows the mitral valve to close more completely, helping to restore normal blood flow to heart.

Most patients stay in the hospital for 2-3 days and notice improved symptoms soon after the procedure. In addition, studies have shown that mitral valve repair with the MitraClip reduces the risk of hospitalization for heart failure.

The MitraClip allows our physicians to offer a less invasive treatment option for patients who may not be candidates for traditional surgical valve repair. This evolving technology can help high risk patients breathe easier, feel better and have an improved overall quality of life without surgery when medication fails. Schedule an appointment today to learn if MitraClip is an option for you.

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