In patients with mitral regurgitation, the mitral valve does not close completely, allowing blood to flow backwards or “leak” into the upper chamber of the heart, causing shortness of breath, fatigue and dizziness. The debilitating condition can lead to congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, stroke or death.
Historically, patients with severe mitral regurgitation have required open heart surgery. The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital is now offering Mitraclip, a minimally invasive procedure for patients who may not be able to tolerate surgery.
“As a national leader in transcatheter mitral valve treatment options, Northwestern Memorial Hospital has one of the largest volume MitraClip programs in Illinois,” said Patrick McCarthy, MD, executive director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and head of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital . “By training our staff at the DuPage Central Hospital in Winfield, we are bringing advanced care to patients closest to where they live.”
During the implantation of MitraClip, a catheter is inserted through the femoral vein in the leg, going up to the heart until reaching the diseased mitral valve. The MitraClip implant is compressed and advanced along the guidewire so that it can be correctly positioned to join or “secure” a part of the mitral valve, reducing or eliminating blood reflux.
“Patients experience a noticeable difference in their symptoms and improve quality of life very quickly,” said Imran N. Ahmad, MD, interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “With the less invasive procedure, patients spend only 24 to 48 hours in the hospital, compared to about five days for an open-heart procedure.”
William Lenschow, of Sycamore, was the first patient to undergo the MitraClip procedure at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. The 84-year-old farmer was so weak from the leak in the mitral valve that he had trouble walking. Two weeks after the procedure, Lenschow was back to work on his farm, harvesting the soybean crop.
“Before the procedure, I was so tired that I slept more than I ever slept in my life. I could only sit and do nothing. I’ve never lived my life like this, ”said Lenschow. “After the procedure, I felt better almost immediately. It is good to be active and working again.”
Northwestern Memorial Hospital participated in the COAPT clinical trial, which found that treatment with MitraClip leads to a reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure and death compared to medical therapy alone. As a result of these findings, the FDA approved MitraClip for patients with functional or secondary mitral regurgitation caused by impaired heart function.
“Mitral valve disease is one of the most common valve diseases in the United States and one of the most difficult to treat,” said Jonathan Tomasko, MD, cardiac surgeon at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “MitraClip gives us another tool in our toolkit to ensure that our patients receive the treatment that is the best option for their condition.”
The Northwestern Memorial Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is one of the top 10 national programs in cardiology and cardiac surgery, according to the U.S. News and World Report, and has ranked the top cardiovascular program in Illinois and neighboring states for more than 10 consecutive years. Shortly after Central DuPage Hospital joined Northwestern Medicine in 2014, doctors at both hospitals came together to initiate a transcatheter aortic valve replacement program at Central DuPage to provide closer access to this technology for patients in western suburbs.
“Patients with mitral valve regurgitation need a lot of trips to the hospital to
test and pre-procedure work. The ability to offer MitraClip close to home is big business, especially considering that many of our patients are not candidates for surgery due to their advanced age, “said Dr. Ahmad.
For more information visit heart.nm.org.