Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New less-invasive heart valve replacement could greatly extend some lifespans

ABC "Good Morning America" this morning reported on a new procedure which may extend life greatly for some heart patients, especially women.

Patients with aortic stenosis may face rapidly increasing heart failure, debility, and mortality. With patients with advanced age or frailty, open heart surgery for valve replacement is not an option. However, a new procedure, being tried at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, allows non-surgical insertion of a small valve through the bloodstream with the incision near the groin, much as with angioplasty. The patient may go home quickly.

The procedure will be tried soon with other valves. It may become accepted practice in the next few years. It could greatly expand life spans – and quality of life -- for some people even further, but that also raises issues of costs.

Dr. Tim Johnson reported on the broadcast. The story is by Thea Trachtenberg and Johann Brady, “Doctors excited by ‘break-through’ heart procedure: noninvasive procedure in clinical trials for people who can’t have open-heart surgery”, link here.

Besides angioplasty with stents (so often and so publicly done with Vice President Dick Cheney) “key-hole” bypass surgery is sometimes available for coronary artery blockages and is much less invasive with much quicker recovery.

Update: Jan. 8, 2009

A friend passed along this reference "S.T.R. for stroke" on recognizing strokes.

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