New Technique Offers an Option to Heart Bypass Surgery

by Patricia Anstett ,  Chigago Sun Times | 2011-03-23

A minimally invasive procedure offers a new option to patients with a common, growing problem in elderly people known as aortic stenosis.

The technique — which allows elderly patients to avoid risky surgery — holds hope for the 100,000 Americans with the condition, a type of heart disease that causes the heart’s valves to stiffen and malfunction as they control blood flow to the heart.

Now, open-heart surgery, an operation with a long recovery, is the main way the problem is treated, but a third of people with the condition are too frail to undergo an operation.

Drugs are not widely effective, said Dr. Theodore Schreiber.

The technique has been available in Europe for at least five years but is still undergoing clinical studies in the United States, where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires greater proof of effectiveness than most European nations do before a device is approved.

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