Three high-risk Emiratis undergo advanced heart valve repair procedure

New technique at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi helps repair valves without open-heart surgery

Abu Dhabi: For the first time in the UAE, a minimally-invasive technique has helped repair heart valves in three high-risk Emirati patients, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has announced.

The technique helped repair the patients’ damaged mitral valves, which are present in the left side of the heart to allow the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle, without the need for open-heart surgery.

The three Emirati female patients, aged 65, 72 and 88, had exhausted all other therapeutic options and were considered inoperable with standard techniques. But three days after undergoing the procedure, patient Noor Al Ameri, 88, said she could already feel the difference in her breathing.

“I was unable to walk and had been having heart valve issues for a long time. This was a safe procedure for patients like me and since my operation, there has been a noticeable difference in my breathing and health,” Al Ameri said.

Dr Rakesh Suri, chief executive officer at the hospital and primary operator for the procedures, explained that the technique is cutting-edge, and only available otherwise at a few centres in Europe.

It is used for high-risk patients with functional mitral regurgitation, a disease that causes the heart’s left ventricle to become enlarged and the valve opening, or annulus, to stretch. The condition leads to blood flowing in the wrong direction from the left ventricle chamber and into the lungs, which become congested and causes severe breathing problems in patients.

Using the new technology, surgeons can perform a mitral valve annulus repair by implanting a device into the patient’s heart while it is still beating. The device is inserted via a vein in the patient’s groin and guided through the body and into the heart of the patient using echo and fluoroscopic imaging. This enables surgeons to repair the ringlike base of the damaged valve without the need for open-heart surgery.

Shaikha Ali Al Maskari, another patient who also underwent the innovative procedure, said she was very happy with the outcome.

“It was very difficult to walk because I couldn’t breathe properly. I am also very excited to be only the second person in the UAE to receive this device. Hopefully, it will help me a lot and give me back my independence,” she said.

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