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Adventist Heart & Vascular Institute Performs First Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR) in the North Bay

July 5, 2018 

The heart valve team at the Adventist Heart & Vascular Institute at Adventist Health St. Helena successfully completed the North Bay’s first Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR) procedure, a less invasive alternative that offers hope for patients with severe degenerative mitral valve regurgitation who were previously faced with only one treatment option—open heart surgery. The first procedure was performed in the cardiac catheterization lab at the hospital on May 9.

Mitral valve regurgitation, which is caused by a leaky heart valve that separates the upper and lower chambers on the left side of the heart, can place serious burdens on quality of life. Degenerative mitral valve regurgitation is usually caused by a structural abnormality of the valve or valve leaflets. The disease affects one in 10 Americans over the age of 75. These patients may experience fatigue, shortness of breath and fainting and an increased risk of developing a rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation. If it is not treated, mitral regurgitation can also cause other serious problems, such as heart failure.

Until now, patients who were not eligible for traditional open heart surgery for repair had only medical therapies to help prevent or delay their disease progression. Medical therapy can treat the symptoms of degenerative mitral regurgitation, but does not treat the disease itself. The TMVR procedure is less invasive than open heart surgery, and patients can expect a faster recovery and shorter hospital stay with minimal pain.

“This procedure is a breakthrough for the many Americans who suffer from mitral valve regurgitation,” explained Dr. Steven Herber, President at Adventist Health St. Helena. “I am proud of our team’s continued hard work to bring the latest innovations in heart and vascular care to communities throughout the North Bay.” The valve team at the Adventist Heart & Vascular Institute previously performed the North Bay’s first Transcatheter Aortic Valve Repair (TAVR) in 2016.

Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair is a surgery-free advance in the field of cardiology performed by accessing the mitral valve via veins using a catheter through the groin. A specially designed clip grasps the mitral valve leaflets, bringing them together and closing the “leak,” allowing blood to pump efficiently through the heart and to the body. The TMVR procedure was performed by a team of highly-trained interventional and general cardiologists, including Dr. Monica Divakaruni, Dr. Mark Gardner and Dr. John Laird and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Gan Dunnington. 

“Much like our work with the transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedure, we are among the first hospitals in Northern California outside of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento to introduce this procedure,” explained Dr. Monica Divakaruni. “The physicians and other clinicians at the Adventist Heart & Vascular Institute are proud to be pioneers in our region and to partner with providers in our community to offer the best cardiovascular care to patients.”

The multidisciplinary heart valve team at the Adventist Heart Institute is made up of cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists, a dedicated nurse coordinator, highly skilled cardiac nurses, anesthesiologists and imaging professionals that collaborate to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients with valvular heart disease. Together, they are unified by a vision to help patients access new advances in treating aortic stenosis and improve their quality of life.

Patients or physicians interested in learning more about the TMVR procedure can call the Adventist Heart & Vascular Institute at 707.963.6322 or can visit adventistheart.org.  
 

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