Less Invasive Options For Heart Disease

| March 31, 2011 | 2 Comments

Less Invasive Heart Surgery

 I had a different article in mind for today, but I was so excited with an article in the Sunday New York Times magazine that I thought it worth sharing.  Part of the article is advertising but I believe there is merit in this article. Heart disease patients can find hope in the progressive treatments described in the Cardiovascular Wellness article

You know I like numbers.  Some of the numbers floored me.  

  • Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. 
  • More than 1,000,000 Americans have angioplasty bypass surgery every year. 
  • The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates that 100,000 persons suffer aortic stenosis, “an obstruction that prevents the aortic valve from opening.” 
  • Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations for people over 65 years of age. 
  • More than 5.8 million Americans currently have heart failure. 
  • 2,333 heart transplants took place in 2010. 
  • There are currently 3,201 persons on the heart transplant wait list. 
  • The American Heart Association estimates that “the prevalence of heart failure approximately doubles with each decade of life.” 

Those are the disheartening facts.  However, there is hope. Progress in the field of cardiovascular wellness is being made.  Companies like Medtronics, Pfizer and other pharmaceuticals are performing vast amounts of research and development.  All this attention is focused on prolonging life in a less invasive way.    

The most common devices used to treat congestive heart failure are Left Ventricle Assisted Devices (LVAD) and the cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).  This device is a “specialized pacemaker.”  Both the LVAD and CRT are prolonging life. 

Of course, there are conventional defibrillators and pacemakers, which come to action when the heart exceeds certain set limits.  I have friends with pacemakers and they swear by them.  I personally had a Medtronics defibrillator implanted in 2003.  The device was removed when I received the transplant.  

The device activated three times in one afternoon and I vowed that  would not happen again.  My device was set to activate if my heart rate rose to 180 or if it fell to 30.  The device activated or shut the heart down and a few seconds later rebooted the heart with a jolt I hope you never experience.  The problem was that every time it rebooted, my heart rate was still over 180 so I was trapped in a vicious cycle.  This went through three repetitions in 20 minutes.  What a wallop!

I should also mention that I was offered an LVAD at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital but was cautioned that the surgery was major and the biggest concern was infection, which puts the possibility of transplantation on hold until the infection is cleared. I have seen people flourish with the LVAD.

“Cardiovascular Wellness” focuses on new, less invasive alternatives.  One of these alternatives is another Medtronics product called the CoreValve System.  It has been implanted in 12,000 people worldwide.  The CoreValve System received conditional approval by the FDA for 1,300 men and women who meet criteria for advanced aortic valve stenosis.

The existing treatment for advanced aortic valve stenosis as is highly invasive open-heart surgery.  With the CoreValve System, the implantation of this device in minimally invasive and takes about 1.5 hours.  The clinical trial is offered by 40 heart treatment centers.

Dr. George Petrossian, the director of interventional cardiovascular procedures at St. Francis Hospital in New York, said, “This is the most revolutionary device in more than 20 years as a cardiologist.  Nothing that I have witnessed in the past can change the way we practice interventional cardiology in such a dramatic way.”

The device is inserted without open-heart surgery.  The new valve is delivered by a catheter through a small opening in the femoral artery, then threaded through around the heart and “deployed in the native valve.” 

Once in place, the CoreValve “ensures that oxygen-rich blood flows through the aorta and circulates the body.”

This article interested me because I believe all this research and development will result in dramatic, far less invasive treatment for end stage heart disease.  If I had aortic stenosis, I would literally be all over this Medtronic’s device.  Hope this helps!

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2 Comments on "Less Invasive Options For Heart Disease"

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  1. Thanks for sharing important information.

  2. Great research by Dr. George Petrossian

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