The treatment of heart valve problems is always changing and improving as new techniques and devices are developed, tested, and approved. Talk with your doctor about the treatment options available to you, including the possibility of new treatments being tested in clinical trials. Click here to learn more about participating in a clinical, and click here for more information about how new treatments and technologies are tested and approved before they become available as treatment options.
Developments in Treating Aortic Valve Problems
One new development in the treatment of the aortic valve is called transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).
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Watch this animation to learn more about a new, less invasive procedure for replacing the aortic valve called transcatheter aortic valve implantation or TAVI. (Animation provided courtesy of Medtronic.)
In November 2011, the FDA approved the first transcatheter aortic valve for patients with severe aortic stenosis whose age and other risk factors prevent them from having open-heart surgery—the preferred method for replacing the aortic valve. The valve, called Sapien, was developed by Edwards Lifesciences and tested in the PARTNER clinical trial. Patients who received the valve in the trial had a better rate of survival from the disease after one year than patients who received other treatments, including valvuloplasty. They also experienced more relief from their symptoms.
Unfortunately, recipients of Sapien in the PARTNER trial also had a higher rate of stroke and other vascular problems. So, it is very important to discuss the risks and benefits of all possible treatments with your doctor. Download these important questions to ask your doctor if you are considering this procedure for yourself or someone you love.
Several other promising treatments are currently in the investigational stage but have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
One innovative, less-invasive procedure for heart valve repair is a tiny clip called the MitraClip that has good one-year data for treating severe mitral valve regurgitation in patients for whom surgery was previously the only option or who were too sick for surgery. Data from a clinical research study called the Endovascular Valve Edge-to-edge REpair STudy (EVEREST II) High Risk Registry found that after one year, patients who underwent the experimental procedure had a survival rate of 75% versus a survival rate of 55% for patients who received medication only. Additionally, 74% of survivors after a year had no or only slight limitations on physical activity. (Click here to read more about the study's one-year findings.)
The MitraClip is a tiny clip that grasps the leaflets of the mitral valve to create two smaller openings in the leaky valve, rather than one large opening. This stops blood from regurgitating, or flowing backward. The clip is placed in the heart using a slender tube called a catheter. The catheter is threaded up to the heart through a vein in the groin. The clip is then moved into position directly over the center of the mitral valve's leaflets and put into place. Then the catheter is removed from the patient's body.
Currently the MItraClip is available to patients in the United States only if they are participating in research trials; however, it is another example of the types of procedures that could revolutionize heart valve procedures in the coming years.
For even more of what the future brings, click here for a preview from an expert on less invasive procedures that are currently under development for heart valve repair.