Harvard Heart Letter

MitraClip provides valve repair without surgery

Until now, fixing a faulty mitral valve in the heart has required open-heart surgery. This valve controls the flow of oxygenated blood from the heart's left atrium (upper chamber) to the left ventricle (lower chamber). Damage or degeneration prevents the valve from closing tightly between heartbeats, allowing blood to leak backward. This is known as mitral regurgitation. It increases the heart's workload, leading to fatigue, shortness of breath, and worsening heart failure.

The FDA has approved a device called the MitraClip (manufactured by Abbott) that repairs the mitral valve without open-heart surgery. It works like this: The MitraClip is fitted to the end of a tube called a catheter, which is inserted through the skin into a vein in the groin. The catheter is maneuvered into the heart. Once it is in place in the mitral valve, the MitraClip is opened up so it holds the two sides of the mitral valve in position to reduce regurgitation.

In people who can withstand open-heart surgery, traditional valve repair and replacement methods are still the best option for a lasting solution. However, for people who are poor candidates for surgery, this device offers an alternative for reducing symptoms, stalling the progression of heart damage, and improving overall quality of life.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »