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What the Heart Wants: Hoag Offers Unique, Tailored Approach for Mitral Valve Care

The mitral valve is the gatekeeper between the left atrium and the left ventricle. When it works properly, it keeps oxygen-rich blood flowing through the body. When it doesn’t, people can experience fatigue, shortness of breath, and even serious heart failure.

The types and causes of mitral valve disease vary, as do appropriate treatments. Mitral valve stenosis, for example, occurs when the valve opening narrows. This situation requires mitral valve replacementMitral valve prolapse is a disease that prevents the valve from closing completely, which can lead to mitral valve regurgitation, or the leaking of blood from the valve back into the left atrium of the heart, which can cause symptoms and eventually heart failure. This situation can usually be repaired.

The right care depends on the type and progression of the disease, as well as the health of the patient. At Hoag’s Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute, surgeons excel at every approach currently available – and some found only in a few places in the world.

“This is an example of how Hoag leads. It’s very unusual for a hospital to have expertise in mitral valve repair and replacement and minimally invasive procedures – as well as the latest technology and access to clinical trials,” said Asad Shah, M.D., co-director of Hoag Cardiovascular Surgery. “We are able to offer each patient the right approach for them.”

While Hoag offers world-class mitral valve replacement for those who require it, the most effective option for treating mitral valve disease is to repair the damaged valve. Hoag’s expert cardiac surgery team repairs more heart valves than 90% of all cardiac programs in the nation.

Open heart surgery for mitral valve repair remains the standard of care, and Hoag excels at it. In addition, Hoag offers several minimally invasive approaches. It is a Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery, for example, and offers expert care to patients who could benefit from robotic-assisted, minimally invasive mitral valve repair surgery. Additionally, there is a direct vision, minimally invasive approach for mitral repair that our group has years of experience with. And for those patients who are too high risk for heart surgery, there is a transcatheter approach known as MitraClip that our surgeons and interventional cardiologists can offer. Hoag was the first hospital in Orange County to offer this therapy.

Hoag is further extending options for patients with mitral valve disease by becoming one of the few hospitals in the world to offer access to a clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of a new surgical system, the HARPOON™ Beating Heart Mitral Valve Repair System, that allows surgeons to treat patients with severe degenerative valve regurgitation through a small chest incision, while the heart is still beating.

Some surgical approaches involve placing patients on a heart-lung bypass machine, which requires surgeons to perform the repair on a stopped heart. This can be challenging, as success of the repair can only be properly assessed once the heart is beating again.

The HARPOON system offers an exciting alternative approach to the treatment of this very specific type of mitral valve disease.

“We are always striving to link innovation with personalized care. That is why being part of these clinical trials is critical,” said Anthony D. Caffarelli, M.D., director of Hoag Cardiovascular Surgery and the Newkirk Family Endowed Chair in Aortic Care. “It is our mission to achieve maximum patient benefit, whether it’s shorter recovery times or less invasive surgical approaches to achieve clinical excellence.”

In addition to matching patients with the best treatment approaches, Hoag is committed through the Nancy & Bill Thompson Valve Center to following patients to ensure their continued success.

“Most hospitals will do a surgery and then not follow up. But we have a valve clinic and follow our patients over time,” Dr. Shah said. “Our team includes an internationally renowned echocardiologist, superior cardiologists, a specialized OR team and world-class nursing care. That is why our patients do so well.”

For more information, call 888-287-5017.