MedWatch: New Heart Technology

Gone are the days where every heart surgery involves open heart surgery.

More and more often, doctors are able to use a catheter to reach an affected area and fix a problem.

Cardiologists at Munson Medical Center are putting these tools to good use, and it’s something patients can certainly appreciate.

Michelle Dunaway introduces us to the first person who’s benefited from two of these minimally invasive procedures in this month’s MedWatch.

“I like to stay active. Sometimes I come home and I say, ‘I’m going to take a nap.’ And then I lay down and say, ‘What a waste!’” said Edwin Mucha.

But not so long ago, Edwin had no choice but to rest when he was out and about.

“I can’t even explain it. You just felt weak, you felt like you could go lay down and go to sleep, but if I rested for one minute then I’m ready to go again,” explained Edwin.

Doctors determined Edwin had a leaky heart valve that was causing his problems.

He had already had open heart surgery several years before, and now they had a new, less invasive option: the MitraClip.

“It clips the mitral valve to prevent severe leaking. The mitral valve opens and closes and the clip keeps it. When it leaks, the valve flips back into the atrium and the clip prevents that from happening,” said Dr. Greg Francisco, M.D., Munson Medical Center electrophysiology.

The clip is run up through the groin and into the heart, so patients are only in the hospital overnight.

Edwin says the change was almost immediate. 

“I was in the hospital and they said, ‘Well, walk.’ And I said, ‘I think I have to go up and down steps.’ ‘Well, we can’t let you go up and down steps,’ and I said, ‘Why can’t I?’ So I snuck out and went up and down the steps while they were watching me, about 3-4 times, and I said, ‘You must have cured me, because I didn’t get that feeling,’” explained Edwin.

While they cured one problem, Edwin’s age, history and atrial fibrillation made him a good candidate for another less invasive procedure.

“The Watchman is a way to prevent stroke without the risk of bleeding. The area of the heart called the left atrial appendage, it’s a pouch that serves several purposes. It’s kind of a pop-off valve and it has some other functions, but it is an area where clots tend to form in the heart. So, the Watchman is a plug or type of cork to put in that pouch,” said Dr. Francisco.

The benefit of the Watchman is that is prevents stroke without using blood thinners.

They used to be the only option and can come with their own set of concerns.

After 20 years of working in medicine, Dr. Francisco says these tools and procedures amaze him.

“Both of those things are things I would never have dreamed of during med school, and never would have thought I would be doing and participating in these procedures,” explained Dr. Francisco.

Edwin is grateful to be feeling better than ever.

“I have more faith in my health now than I did, and I’m still active. I’m probably more active now than I was 3-4 years ago,” said Edwin.


Categories: MedWatch