Novel heart valve replacement offers hope for thousands with rheumatic heart disease

From European Society of Cardiology:

Cape Town, South Africa 9 Sept 2016: A novel heart valve replacement method is revealed today that offers hope for the thousands of patients with rheumatic heart disease who need the procedure each year. The research is being presented at the SA Heart Congress 2016.

The annual congress of the South African Heart Association is held in Cape Town from 8 to 11 September 2016 and is jointly organised with the annual congress of the World Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons. Experts from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) will present a special programme.1

“Over the past decade heart valve surgery has been revolutionised by transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI),” said lead author Dr Jacques Scherman, a cardiac surgeon in the Chris Barnard Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Cape Town, South Africa. “Heart valves are replaced or repaired via a catheter, obviating the need for open heart surgery or a heart-lung machine.”

He continued: “TAVI is only indicated in patients with calcific degenerative aortic valve disease, which is the most prevalent aortic valve pathology in developed countries. In developing countries, rheumatic heart disease still accounts for the majority of patients in need of a heart valve intervention.”

Rheumatic heart disease is caused by rheumatic fever, which results from a streptococcal infection. Patients develop fibrosis of the heart valves, leading to valvular heart disease, heart failure and death. In Africa alone there are around 15 million patients living with rheumatic heart disease of whom 100 000 per year might need a heart valve intervention at some stage of their life. The vast majority of these patients have no access to cardiac surgery or sophisticated cardiac imaging.

Dr Scherman said: “Inspired by the success of TAVI for calcific aortic valve disease, we developed a simplified TAVI device for transcatheter aortic valve replacement in patients with rheumatic heart …

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