Grandview Heart Health: New MitraClip procedure makes heart surgery an option for frail patients

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBS42 Community) – Do you have trouble catching your breath as you walk from room to room? Is it difficult to breathe when you lie down at night to sleep? The problem could be the mitral valve in your heart.

Dr. John Harlan, a Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgeon at Grandview Medical Center explains blood flows from the ventricle back into the atrium, flooding your lungs.

“Normally the blood comes through the lungs, atrium, ventricle, and out the aorta. But mitral regurgitation, blood flows back into the lungs, you get a lot of pulmonary congestion, venous hypertension, and people have a cough, and shortness of breath, tiredness, fatigue, and swelling,” said Harlan.

Harlan says that he asks patients how many pillows they sleep on at night.

“Some people cannot lay down because their lungs get flooded with blood, they get short of breath, and they have to sit up and then they can feel better,” Harlan said.

Severe cases of mitral regurgitation typically call for open-heart surgery to repair the valve, but many patients are too old and frail to undergo the procedure. For these patients, Dr. Harlan recommends a new, less invasive treatment called a MitraClip procedure.

“(I had a) patient that was 99-years-old and did very well, and went home the next day! It’s exciting technology. We do it through the femoral vein, which is in the groin and the catheters are threaded up through the heart. We puncture the atrial septum and come down and grasp the leaflets and approximate the tissue edges. So you take somebody that’s very very symptomatic down to just mildly symptomatic, and they can tell right away they feel better,” Harlan said. “New technology and new science make it exciting.”

The MitraClip used in the procedure is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories.

To find out more about what the cardiology team at Grandview Medical Center can do for you, visit

The preceding post was sponsored by Grandview Medical Center

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