By Iosif Kelesidis, MD, MSc  WC
Premier Heart and Vascular Center, North Lakeland

Mitral insufficiency is the leaking of blood in the mitral valve of the heart and can be treated with open-heart surgery or an alternative procedure known as MitraClip or Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair.

While it is a relatively new procedure, more than 80,000 patients have been treated with MitraClip. More than 17,000 of those were studied to learn how the procedure affected them. It was determined that the procedure is extremely effective as it caused an immediate reduction in mitral insufficiency issues. Most of these patients spent only a few days recovering after the procedure, and all of them experienced improvements in heart function and overall quality of life.

What Does MitraClip Treat?

MitraClip is specifically designed to treat mitral insufficiency or mitral regurgitation. The condition affects the mitral valve and causes the valve to leak some of the blood backward during normal blood flow, which reduces the amount of blood needed for vital organs in the body.

This valve damage is usually caused by a previous heart attack, calcium accumulation, mitral valve prolapse or an enlarged heart.

The most common symptoms of the condition are:

  • Shortness of breath, especially from exertion or while lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heart murmur
  • Heart palpitations
  • Persistent cough during the night or while lying down
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Excessive urination

How is the MitraClip Procedure Performed?

MitraClip is a minimally invasive, alternative treatment option for mitral insufficiency when the patient is not a candidate for open-heart surgery.

Instead of more invasive surgery that involves stopping your heart, MitraClip uses a catheter to access the mitral valve. An incision is made in your leg and the catheter, with an attached MitraClip device, is led through the artery to your heart, while it’s still beating. The MitraClip is then attached to the mitral valve, allowing the valve to close correctly and re-establish normal blood flow.

The clip device is made from polyester fabric, and once implanted stops the movement of blood backward, reestablishing normal blood flow in the correct direction. Here’s a short  video animation.

Once the procedure is done, you will be required to stay in the hospital for two to three days. However, the symptoms of mitral insufficiency will likely subside immediately after the procedure.

You won’t need any special care afterward, and you’ll be able to return to regular activities very soon. You’ll also receive an Implant Identification Card to show if you require an MRI scan later in life.

If you want to learn more about the procedure and whether you are a candidate, feel free to contact us.