MitraClip Mitral Regurgitation Treatment

Treating Mitral Regurgitation Without Opening the Chest

While open-heart surgery is still the preferred treatment method for low-risk patients with mitral regurgitation, also known as a “leaky valve,” it requires opening the chest via a large incision, the use of a heart-lung machine and a longer recovery time. Due to the intensity of this treatment route, some patients are deemed ineligible due to their age or health history. These patients may benefit from having a MitraClip inserted instead.

MitraClip is a new device by Abbott Vascular that is used to clip together the leaflets of the mitral valve and stop the valve from leaking. Instead of opening the chest, cardiologists enter the heart through arteries in the groin to put the clip in place. Before the invention of the MitraClip, medically managing the symptoms associated with mitral regurgitation was the only option available if surgical repair could not be performed.

How is MitraClip performed? 

MitraClip is performed through a vessel in the groin using a catheter. Please watch the short video below for more information. 

Who is a candidate for MitraClip? 

The best candidates for the FDA-approved usage of the MitraClip are patients who:

  • Have a structural problem with their mitral valve that causes it to leak (degenerative mitral regurgitation) 
  • Are experiencing symptoms
  • Have been deemed too high risk for surgery 

What is Mitral Regurgitation? 

Mitral regurgitation is a condition where the mitral valve leaflets do not close tightly. When this happens, blood flows backward from the heart's left ventricle into the left atrium, making the heart work harder to push blood through the body. 

There are two types of mitral regurgitation: degenerative and functional. Degenerative mitral regurgitation, also called primary mitral regurgitation, is caused by damage to the mitral valve leaflets. Functional mitral regurgitation, also called secondary mitral regurgitation, is caused by enlargement of the heart due to heart attack or heart failure. The ventricle becomes enlarged and doesn’t contract like normal, which causes the leaflets of the valve not to meet in the center. 

If left untreated, mitral regurgitation can cause lots of stress on the heart, recurrent episodes of heart failure, severe shortness of breath, swelling of the legs, frequent hospital stays, and ultimately leads to death. Repairing the leak may change the course of the disease and increase a patient’s overall quality of life. 


Mitral Regurgitation Signs & Symptoms

Many people do not realize that they have mitral regurgitation until they start experiencing symptoms. This can occur gradually over time and may include: 

  • Fatigue, exhaustion and light-headedness due to the stress placed on the heart
  • Shortness of breath that increases with activity and eventually when lying down
  • A feeling of heaviness on the chest when laying down
  • Excessive urination at night 
  • Swelling in the legs 

If you feel something may be wrong, discuss your symptoms with your doctor and ask to be referred to one of our Tallahassee Memorial Physician Partners cardiologists to have your heart checked. 

What is the COAPT study?

Patients with functional mitral regurgitation may be eligible to receive the MitraClip through our Structural Heart Program’s involvement in the COAPT research study. The COAPT study is a large-scale clinical trial to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of minimally invasive treatment and medicine therapy in patients with functional mitral regurgitation.

Currently, most functional mitral regurgitation patients are treated using medicine, but this approach only manages a patient’s symptoms and does not address the disorder. In the trial, 50 percent of patients will be medically managed, and the other 50 percent will receive the MitraClip in addition to medical therapy. The goal of the study is to determine whether treating functional mitral regurgitation with the MitraClip will help change the course of the disease, improve the symptoms associated with the disease, or both. 

The trial is currently enrolling patients, and our Structural Heart Program is one of few in the nation that was chosen to participate in the trial. If you would like to learn more, or be considered for the COAPT trial, please call 850-431-7397. 

How can I get more information? 

To learn more about MitraClip and/or the COAPT trial, please call Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare at 850-431-7397. If you are a patient who would like to be considered for the procedure, please request a referral to our Structural Heart Program from your primary care physician.