Dr. Oz’s Invention Makes Mending a Broken Heart Easier

Dr. Oz’s Invention Makes Mending a Broken Heart Easier

This new device allows quick and effective repair to a faulty heart valve in heart failure patients.

Imagine that you are chronically fatigued and short of breath even when lying down. Your legs and ankles are swollen, and you have an increased heart rate. These are symptoms that almost 6 million Americans may contend with because they have heart failure—the inability of the heart to pump enough blood throughout the body to keep organs and tissue healthy and happy.

If you have this condition, it can cause the heart muscle to weaken and stretch out like an overblown balloon. That pulls apart the mitral valve. (Its job is to open and close the door between the heart’s upper left-hand chamber, the atrium—and the lower chamber, the ventricle.) When that happens, the flow of oxygen-rich blood out of your heart to the rest of your body backs up and you develop what’s called mitral regurgitation. Your symptoms worsen and your risk of death from heart failure increases.

But if a surgeon can fix the valve, even if the heart cannot be replaced, your well-being will improve greatly.

Unfortunately, until now, heart failure with mitral valve regurgitation often made mitral valve repair or replacement necessary—complete with cracking open your ribcage and stopping your heart so surgeons can go deep inside it. These are risky procedures, especially for people who have heart failure. Not surprisingly, many patients are not able to undergo the procedures—they simply have to live with the chronic, severe symptoms, making frequent and expensive hospital readmissions necessary.

New day, new way
But what if doctors developed a stealthy treatment that allowed them to sneak inside your heart without the trauma and risk of open heart surgery? That would be terrific . . . and they have!

In a stunning example of medical innovation, doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs worked for two decades to develop the MitraClip. The clip is attached to your sagging mitral valve and allows the valve to once again open and then close completely in synchronization with your beating heart.

This dime-sized device was originally conceived by Dr. Oz in 1996. It is based on insights into the workings of the mitral valve by an Italian surgeon named Antonio Alfieri. Says Dr. Oz: “Alfieri explained that the mitral valve works like a zipper and when it fails in this way all surgeons need to do is place one stitch to restart the closing process. Once stitched, the faulty valve naturally snaps shut again on its own!

“I kept thinking, if we only need one stitch, I should be smart enough to create a noninvasive process using a catheter to accomplish this goal, like we do with the placement of a heart stent.

“My colleagues and I at Columbia University immediately patented the device. In 2003, with a remarkably creative team led by Ferolyn Powell, we released a device which we’ve used at my New York-Presbyterian Hospital and around the world—in 30,000 implants since then.”

But there has been some resistance to using the device because large clinical trials hadn’t yet demonstrated success. Well, that’s old news now.

In a recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine, lead author Greg Stone (Dr. Oz’s colleague from New York-Presbyterian) and dozens of collaborators published evidence of the MitraClip’s effectiveness.

Their study followed 614 patients (303 received the device, the rest received standard treatments). Over two years, those receiving the clip saw their risk of getting admitted to the hospital cut in half! Even more importantly, after over five years of follow-up, the device reduced the risk of death in those receiving the clip by an astounding 38 percent!

“The trial proved for the first time, without a shadow of a doubt, that the device works,” says Dr. Oz. And he says this life-saving device’s journey from concept to acquisition and research-support from a major pharma company, Abbott, “epitomizes how this country supports medical innovation.” The result: lives saved, quality of life enhanced, medical costs reduced. Win, win, win.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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