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Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Now Offering MitraClip, an Alternative Treatment to Open Heart Valve Surgery

In patients with mitral regurgitation, the mitral valve does not close completely, allowing blood to flow backward or “leak” into the upper chamber of the heart, causing shortness of breath, fatigue and dizziness. The debilitating condition can lead to congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, stroke or death.

Historically, patients with severe mitral regurgitation required open heart surgery. The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital is now offering MitraClip, a minimally invasive procedure for patients who may not be able to tolerate surgery.

“As a national leader in transcatheter mitral valve treatment options, Northwestern Memorial Hospital has one of the highest-volume MitraClip programs in Illinois,” said Patrick McCarthy, MD, executive director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and chief of cardiac surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “By training our team at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, we are bringing advanced care to patients closer to where they live.”

During MitraClip implantation, a catheter is inserted through the femoral vein in the leg, up into the heart until it reaches the diseased mitral valve. The MitraClip implant is compressed and advanced along the guide wire so that it can be properly positioned to join or “clip” together a portion of the mitral valve, reducing or eliminating the backward flow of blood.

“Patients experience a noticeable difference in their symptoms and improved quality of life very quickly,” said Imran N. Ahmad, MD, interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. “With the less invasive procedure, patients spend only 24 to 48 hours in the hospital, compared to about five days for an open heart procedure.”

William Lenschow, of Sycamore, was the first patient to undergo the MitraClip procedure at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. The 84 year-old farmer was so weak from his leaking mitral valve that he found it difficult to walk. Within two weeks of the procedure, Lenschow was back at work on his farm harvesting the soybean crop.

“Before the procedure I was so tired I slept more than I ever have in my life. I could only sit around and do nothing. I’ve never lived my life that way,” said Lenschow. “After the procedure, I felt better almost immediately. It feels good to be active and working again.”

Northwestern Memorial Hospital participated in the COAPT™ clinical trial, which found treatment with MitraClip leads to a reduction in hospitalizations for heart failure and death compared to medical therapy alone. As a result of these findings, the FDA approved MitraClip for patients with functional or secondary mitral regurgitation caused by diminished heart function.

“Mitral valve disease is one of the most common valve disorder in the United States and one of the more difficult to treat,” said Jonathan Tomasko, MD, cardiac surgeon at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “MitraClip arms us with another tool in our tool kit to ensure our patients are getting the treatment that is the best option for their condition.”

Northwestern Memorial’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is one of the top 10 national programs for cardiology and heart surgery, according to U.S. News and World Report, and ranked the top cardiovascular program in Illinois and the surrounding states for more than 10 consecutive years. Shortly after Central DuPage Hospital joined Northwestern Medicine in 2014, physicians from both hospitals combined to start a transcatheter aortic valve replacement program at Central DuPage to provide closer-to-home access to this technology to patients in the western suburbs.

“Patients with mitral valve regurgitation require many trips to the hospital for testing and pre-procedure work. The ability to offer MitraClip close to home is a big deal, especially considering many of our patients are not candidates for surgery because of their advanced age,” said Dr. Ahmad.

For more information, visit heart.nm.org.