Newswise — LOS ANGELES (July 3, 2018) -- A Smidt Heart Institute patient is the first in the country to receive a new device to fix a leaky heart valve.

The patient, Sheldon Kardener, MD, received the device July 1 during a 30-minute minimally invasive procedure in Cedars-Sinai’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab as a treatment for mitral valve regurgitation. The procedure was performed by Saibal Kar, MD, widely regarded as one of the foremost experts in mitral valve repair. Kardener was discharged and returned home Monday morning.  

“My breathing was better almost immediately and the discomfort in my chest was gone completely when I woke up,” Kardener said on Monday as he waited to be discharged from the medical center.

The mitral valve, one of the human heart’s four valves, has leaflets that open and close as the heart pumps blood through the body. When the valve’s leaflets do not close properly, blood can flow backwards into the heart, causing heart disease. The condition is somewhat common, found in about 10 percent of people 75 or older.

Abbott’s MitraClip device, first approved by the FDA in 2013, helps the valve’s leaflets to close more fully, preventing the backward flow of blood that can lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath, and ultimately to heart failure. And the device Kardener received is a new version of MitraClip, which comes in two different sizes and can help patients with more complex anatomies and bigger leaks. The new models also provide cardiologists with advanced technology to aid in precisely positioning the clip. Before the first MitraClip device was approved, the only treatments for mitral regurgitation were open-heart surgery or medication that alleviated symptoms but did not offer a cure.

Kar said Kardener wasn’t a candidate for the procedure until the new version went on the market because he needed the new, larger size clip.

“This is how technology is advancing heart care and allowing us to help patients who, until now, didn’t have many options,” said Kar, who has performed more Mitra-clip procedures than any other physician in the U.S. “Now, Dr. Kardener can get back to living a full life instead of having to watch from the sidelines.”

Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Smidt Heart Institute, said the first-in-the-nation procedure is another landmark for Cedars-Sinai’s highly regarded cardiac care.

“Innovation in service of patient care is what drives us on a daily basis,” Marbán said. “This landmark builds upon the Smidt Heart Institute’s legacy of innovation spanning from the early 1900s, when Cedars-Sinai purchased Los Angeles’ first electrocardiogram machine, and the development of the Swann-Ganz catheter in the 1970s to our leadership in heart transplantation and valve innovations today.”

Kardener now is looking forward to getting back to exercising regularly. An avid jogger, Kardener gave it up a few years ago as his mitral regurgitation worsened and he found it harder and harder to breathe. He and his wife, Monica, also are looking forward to celebrating his retirement, which began the day before his procedure.

“Living life fully is the best way to celebrate,” said Kardener, a psychiatrist who will continue to teach medical residents at UCLA. “Now I am going to be able to celebrate in better health and with more energy.”

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