Beaumont Offers New Alternative to Open-Heart Surgery

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Patients at Beaumont Health System, which operates hospitals in Royal Oak, Troy, and Grosse Pointe, will be among the first in Michigan to benefit from a new procedure that can repair a heart valve without open-heart surgery.

The system, approved by the FDA in October, is designed for patients with severe, degenerative mitral (valve) regurgitation, which affects more than 4 million Americans, or nearly one in 10 people over the age of 74. The catheter-based procedure is ideal for patients who are at too high of a risk for the traditional treatment of mitral valve surgery, say hospital officials.

Without treatment, degenerative mitral regurgitation — caused by a defect of the heart’s mitral valve in which blood flows backward — is life threatening.

“Beaumont was the first hospital in metro Detroit to treat patients in a 2008 clinical study evaluating the MitraClip system,” says Dr. George Hanzel, director of valvular and congenital heart disease at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. He says Beaumont is the first in the area to offer the treatment option for patients.

Last year, Steve Shammas of Scottsdale, Ariz. participated in a research trial for the device — which is fed to the heart through a thin plastic tube inserted in the femoral vein, a blood vessel in the leg. Prior to the trial, he had experienced a heart attack and open-heart surgery, and had been told by other surgeons that were no other treatments.

“Since the procedure, I can now go to the gym, I have no problem walking, and I can sleep better,” says Shammas, 67, noting that his extreme fatigue and shortness of breath are gone.

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