New device helps patients too sick for open heart surgery - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

New device helps patients too sick for open heart surgery

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UNDATED (WJRT) - (06/19/14) - A new FDA-approved device is saving lives - helping the patients too sick for open heart surgery.

When a person's heart valves don't close tightly enough, blood can leak into the heart and lungs. The condition is known as mitral regurgitation and affects about 4 million people in the U.S.    

For those with severe MR, open heart surgery used to be the only option.

Alice Comer is thankful to show off pictures of her grandkids. After her second open heart surgery two years ago, her heart valve started leaking, filling her lungs with fluid.    

"In and out of the hospital about every 2 weeks, sometimes every week. Taking a needle that long, going in your back and drawing the fluid out. It was awful."

Comer was too sick for another open heart surgery.  

"They said it would kill me," she said.

Instead, Doctor Mark Stankewicz offered her a new treatment, known as Mitraclip. A catheter is guided through the leg vein to the heart valve, where the Mitraclip is sent, clipping it together.  
"There is no incision, the heart is not stopped, it's beating the whole time," Stankewicz said.

It worked for Comer. No shortness of breath, no other symptoms.  

"I don't feel tied down and I do about everything I want to," Comer said.

Unlike traditional surgery, where patients will spend at least a week in the hospital recovering, patients with this new device often go home the day after the procedure.
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