KANSAS CITY, KAN.— Results from a groundbreaking study performed at The University of Kansas Hospital give a big boost to fixing a bad aortic valve, the heart's main gate, without open-heart surgery.
The results were revealed at the American College of Cardiology’s 2014 Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C., and are being published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The University of Kansas Hospital is one of only 45 national sites, and the only local site, participating in this landmark study which showed more patients were alive at one year if they received a new minimally-invasive heart device called the Core Valve, compared to patients who had traditional open-heart surgery.
The study shows 19 percent of the surgery patients and only 14 percent of those given a Core Valve had died, a statistically significant finding.
Several hundred thousand Americans have a bad aortic valve, which can stiffen and narrow with age, keeping blood from passing through as it should. Until now, the only solution was a major operation to open the chest, cut out the bad valve and sew in a new one.
The Core Valve system is inserted through an artery in the leg and then guided through the arteries into the heart at the site of the original aortic valve. Once in place the Core Valve system expands into place of the original valve and takes over its function.
“It’s absolutely a game-changer,” said Trip Zorn, M.D., a cardiothoracic surgeon at The University of Kansas Hospital. “This technology has offered us an option for those who had no surgical option, that medicine was their only therapy.”
Zorn said older patients, or patients at high or extreme risk for surgery can now get this treatment, which also leads to significant improvements in their quality of life, according to the study.