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MitraClip Heart Device Reduces Deaths Among Patients With Damaged Heart Valves

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MitraClip, a small device inserted into the body, can work miracles to patients suffering from severe heart failures, a recent clinical trial has revealed.

Researchers said that patients who used the clip reported fewer symptoms and a significantly improved quality of life. The results were revealed during a medical meeting in San Diego.

The clinical trial was also documented in the New England Journal of Medicine.

MitraClip Saving Lives

The large clinical trial involved patients from 78 sites across the United States and Canada. Researchers divided volunteers into two groups: one group received transcatheter mitral-valve repair plus medical therapy (device group) while the other group assigned medical therapy alone (control group). All participants were diagnosed with moderate to severe heart failures and do not respond to regular treatment.

Researchers report that out of 614 patients, 151 patients from the control group were hospitalized for heart failure after two years. A total of 61 people died within the trial period. Meanwhile, only 92 people from the group assigned to use MitraClip were hospitalized while only 28 died.

"It's a huge advance," stated Dr. Howard Hermann, director of interventional cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania. "It shows we can treat and improve the outcomes of a disease in a way we never thought we could."

Severe heart failure is a complicated disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5.7 million adults in the United States have heart failure. About half of those who were diagnosed die within five years.

For many, a diagnosis alone is a death sentence. While drugs help control symptoms, severe heart failure can prevent a patient from living a normal life. They experience breathlessness from walking up the stairs or even falling asleep while sitting because the heart has started to pump inefficiently.

How It Works

To install the device into the heart, a cardiologist threads the MitraClip through a blood vessel in the groin. As soon as it reaches the heart, the MitraClip is guided toward the mitral valve where it will be clipped.

The process is a lot less invasive and carries a lower risk. Not all doctors are also equipped to insert the clip.

The MitraClip has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be used in patients who are too frail to undergo surgery but whose hearts are working well except for the mitral valve. Researchers, however, hope that the device will also be approved for patients who suffer from severe heart failures.

The MitraClip was developed by Abbott, the company that also funded the research.

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