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PHOENIX, Arizona – The Heart and Vascular Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center has performed a groundbreaking heart procedure to treat a common cardiac condition that affects one in 30 Americans over the age of 65. If proven effective in trials, this minimally invasive procedure will replace invasive heart surgery as the new standard of care.
Hursh Naik, MD, a cardiologist who is leading the clinical trial at St. Joseph’s and serves as medical director of the hospital’s Cath Lab and Structural Heart Program, says the new procedure may have revolutionary impact on cardiology because it provides an option to treat the tricuspid valve, which is often referred to as the “forgotten heart valve,” and has had limited treatment options.
“In addition to discovering a non-surgical way to repair the tricuspid valve when leaking is identified, we’ve found that the procedure also has other benefits, including improving the heart’s function. It potentially can make a weak heart stronger.”
One of the first patients to undergo the procedure is 87-year-old Peoria man, Carol Jackson. Jackson had experienced periodic heart problems dating to 2004 when his heart went out of rhythm as he exercised on a treadmill. In 2016, Jackson had a mitral valve clip installed. When Dr. Naik detected leakage in the tricuspid value — which helps regulate blood flow — during a routine checkup last January, Jackson agreed to participate in the trial.
“The options were limited.” Jackson says. “This was almost a no-brainer.”
Since Jackson’s treatment in October, he is walking two miles a day and preparing to explore hiking trails.
“I was home the day following treatment, carrying on with life as if nothing happened,” says Jackson, who struggled to walk significant distances before receiving treatment.
The study, called the TRILUMINATE Pivotal trial, is the first in the United States to evaluate a catheter- based, non-surgical treatment for patients with severe tricuspid regurgitation, a condition in which the tricuspid heart valve does not close properly, allowing blood to flow backward into the heart and forcing the heart to work harder. When severe cases are left untreated, tricuspid regurgitation can lead to heart failure.
Before this procedure was created, patients typically had open-heart surgery which requires a much more complex recovery period. The traditional open heart procedure is technically challenging and involves patching the leak to eliminate backflow.
St. Joseph’s, which is one of several U.S. hospitals to participate in the trial, was the first hospital in the Southwestern United States to perform the non-surgical technique. The trial, sponsored by Abbott, is expected to enroll approximately 700 patients by 2022.