Two McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members—Joon Sup Lee, MD, and Thomas Gleason, MD—were involved in the successful implant of a newly FDA-approved valve in patients suffering from severe aortic stenosis, a debilitating narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve that often causes shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and fatigue. UPMC is the first hospital in the region to offer this new treatment option called the Sapien Transcatheter Heart Valve (pictured).
Treatment with the Sapien valve has been shown to greatly improve the quality of life for those who suffer from aortic stenosis, which affects as many as 500,000 people in the U.S. This condition can interfere with day-to-day activities such as walking or climbing stairs. Traditionally, a patient’s only option was to have open-heart surgery to replace the aortic valve, but the procedure was often deemed too risky for elderly patients, who are most prone to the condition.
The Sapien valve is implanted via catheter making the procedure less invasive and more appropriate for patients deemed too high risk or unsuitable for open-heart surgery.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increased number of patients who are not good surgical candidates. This is a promising alternative and we’re pleased to provide this option to our patients,” said Dr. Lee, co-director of the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.
UPMC cardiologists implanted the valves in two patients last month, including a 91-year-old man with a previous history of open-heart surgery who was considered too high risk for open heart aortic replacement surgery.
“A day after the procedure, he was walking. This is making a real difference in his quality of life,” said William Anderson, MD, an interventional cardiologist who performed the procedure with Dr. Gleason, co-director of UPMC’s Center for Heart Valve Disease.
The FDA approved the use of the Sapien valve, made by Edwards Lifesciences, in November 2011.
Illustration: The Sapien Transcatheter Heart Valve was approved by the FDA in 2011 for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis. –Edwards Lifesciences.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Media Relations News Release
Edwards Lifesciences: Sapien Transcatheter Heart Valve