CHI Memorial and The Chattanooga Heart Institute are the first in the Chattanooga region to offer MitraClip® – a breakthrough technology for people who suffer from mitral valve regurgitation but are too high risk for surgical valve repair or replacement. MitraClip® therapy is the world’s first transcatheter mitral valve repair – meaning no surgical incisions are needed to deliver this life changing therapy.
What is Mitral Regurgitation?
Mitral regurgitation occurs when the heart’s mitral valve leaflets don’t close tightly. Heart valves work like one-way gates, allowing blood to flow in one direction between the chambers of the heart and then on to fueling your brain and other parts of your body. When these gates don’t close properly, blood can flow backwards (or regurgitate) making the heart work harder to push blood through the body. This causes shortness of breath, feelings of fatigue and worsening heart failure because of the extra strain on the heart.
People with mitral regurgitation may not realize they have the condition, because it’s often mild and progresses slowly. It’s often suspected when your doctor hears a heart murmur. Elderly people may also not realize they’re suffering from the condition since they attribute their feelings of breathlessness and general decline to old age or other health issues.
When left untreated, mitral regurgitation continues to worsen – leading to complications including atrial fibrillation, heart failure and pulmonary hypertension or high blood pressure in the arteries leading to the heart and lungs.
Identifying the Symptoms
The symptoms of mitral regurgitation are progressive, meaning they will worsen gradually as the heart works overtime to pump blood through the body. The signs and symptoms of mitral regurgitation can include:
Lifesaving Treatment – Without Open Heart Surgery
CHI Memorial is the leading provider of cardiac care, and our physicians exceed national standards for education, training and skill. That’s why we’re the first to offer this exclusive treatment for mitral regurgitation – we’re always working to provide a higher level of care for you.
Treatment for mitral regurgitation depends on the severity of your condition and if your symptoms are getting worse. If your doctor determines that open heart surgery isn’t an option for you – because of your age, advanced heart failure or other serious medical conditions – you may be eligible for the minimally invasive transcatheter mitral valve repair called MitraClip®. MitraClip® can improve your heart’s function, minimize symptoms, and help you enjoy a longer and higher quality of life.
The MitraClip® device is a small clip about the size of a dime that’s attached to your mitral valve to stop the backward leaking of blood. It treats mitral regurgitation by letting your mitral valve close more completely, helping to reestablish normal blood flow.
The CHI Memorial MitraClip® team accesses the mitral valve using a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. After the catheter is in place, the clip is guided through a vein in the leg to reach your heart. The MitraClip® is positioned over the leaky valve until it’s in the desired position. The arms of the clip are extended, and it’s passed down below the mitral valve before being pulled back up again into place. The clip grasps the mitral leaflets and then is closed. The doctors use advanced imaging systems to ensure there’s a reduction in your mitral regurgitation, and then the delivery system is removed.
Unlike surgery, MitraClip® doesn’t require opening the chest or stopping your heart. Most people who receive MitraClip® spend one night in the hospital and are released to home the next day. Although you may feel better immediately after the procedure, doctors recommend taking it easy for five to seven days to allow the site where the catheter was inserted to heal properly.
Improvements You Can Feel and See
Clinical data has shown that people who receive the MitraClip® see an immediate reduction in their mitral regurgitation – resulting in reduced hospitalizations and overall improvement in congestive heart failure – in addition to experiencing a lessening of symptoms soon after the procedure. Many patients report an immediate improvement in their shortness of breath and feelings of fatigue, leading to a much higher quality of life. It’s important to talk with your doctor about what to expect following the procedure.
Is MitraClip® Right for Me?
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with severe mitral valve regurgitation and are not a candidate for open heart surgery, MitraClip® may be an appropriate therapy. MitraClip® is FDA approved only for patients who are considered too sick for surgery. CHI Memorial’s MitraClip® team – including cardiothoracic surgeons, imaging cardiologists, interventional cardiologists and nurse navigators – work together to determine what treatment is right for you based on your current health condition and the presence of one or more surgical risk factors.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for an evaluation, please call CHI Memorial’s MitraClip® Valve Coordinator at (423) 495-4327.