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A new device for heart patients

A new device for heart patients

A tiny new device is offering hope of a better life for people with severe heart failure, reducing rates of hospitalisation and improving the risk of mortality within two years of treatment, a new study finds. Heart failure affects more than 26 million people globally, causing shortness of breath and tiredness among those affected as their heart struggles to pump blood around the body. One cause of severe heart failure that currently has a poor prognosis is a leaky valve, particularly the leakage of the mitral valve, which controls blood flow in the left part of the heart. When leakage is severe, the heart can enlarge. The failure of the mitral valve causes blood to flow backward when pumped out, meaning it cannot reach the rest of the body efficiently. But a new device, called a MitraClip, clips the faulty valve back together, helping it work properly and pump blood out of the heart. It has now shown promising results in the study published recently. Drugs are available to ease symptoms of a leaky mitral valve, but the long-term effects are unknown, the authors write. Surgery is also an option and can be curative, but brings significant risk of complications, as patients are often older and frailer. Implanting the MitraClip is minimally invasive, with the device transferred up through a small incision in the groin and has now been shown to reduce recovery time and hospitalisation, according to the study. To measure the real effectiveness of the device, Dr. Greg Stone, Professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians, and his team enrolled 614 patients from the US and Canada with heart failure and moderate to severe secondary mitral valve regurgitation, a leaky mitral valve, who continued to have symptoms despite being on drug treatment for their condition. The secondary form of the condition is when a person's left ventricle is damaged, prohibiting the valve from functioning properly. Of the participants, 302 were given the new device and 312 acted as controls. Among those who received the MitraClip, there were 32.1 per cent fewer hospitalisations per year within to years of follow-up. "The annualised rate of all hospitalisations for heart failure within 24 months was 35.8 per cent per patient-year in the device group as compared with 67.9 per cent per patient-year in the control w," the authors wrote. Overall mortality from any cause within those two years was also 17 per cent lower among patients who were implanted with the device compared with the control group, at 29.1 per cent and 46.1per cent, respectively. The MitraClip technique was first pioneered in 2003 and approved by the FDA in October 2013 to treat the primary (or degenerative) form of mitral regurgitation, according to researchers at the University of Washington.

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