Mitral regurgitation, caused by a leaky heart valve, happens when the valve between your heart’s lower left chamber (ventricle) allows blood to flow back into the upper chamber (atrium) with each heartbeat. Over time, the extra burden on your heart and lungs can enlarge and weaken your heart and may lead to congestive heart failure.
If you aren’t a good candidate for open heart surgery and your valve needs to be more than repaired, your doctor may suggest replacing your mitral valve with this minimally invasive procedure.
For certain patients, doctors across the Sutter Health network now perform non-surgical heart valve replacement. Transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR) technology doesn’t require opening your chest and temporarily stopping your heart. You may qualify for this procedure depending on your age, advanced heart failure or other serious medical conditions.
During the procedure, doctors place a thin tube (catheter) into a large vein in your leg to reach your heart. Through guidance of an echocardiogram (echo) and X-ray, an artificial, human or animal tissue valve is transported directly to the heart. The new valve replaces your existing valve and should simulate better blood flow between your lower left chamber and upper chamber. Immediately following placement, your care team can tell if the valve is working. If modifications are needed, they can be made immediately.
Potential benefits of TMVR include:
- No need for open heart surgery.
- Quick recovery times. People are typically released from the hospital the following day.
- Reduces blood backflow and accompanying symptoms.
- Reduces hospitalizations.
- Lifelong anticoagulant medicine may not be necessary.
Mitral valve replacement with TMVR is not right for everyone. It should only be used to treat those too sick for surgery, based on the clinical judgment of the care team and a cardiac surgeon experienced in mitral valve disease. Talk to your doctor about the best option for you.