New device saved heart patient's life

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Jul 03 2014 06:29:53 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 04 2014 08:00:00 AM EDT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

When a person’s heart valves don’t close tightly enough, blood can leak into the heart and lungs. The condition is known as mitral regurgitation and affects about 4 million people in the United States. For those with severe MR, open heart surgery used to be the only option. But, now a new FDA approved device is helping the sickest patients.

Alice Comer is thankful to show off pictures of her grandkids. After her second open heart surgery two years ago, her heart valve started leaking, filling her lungs with fluid.

“I was in and out of the hospital about every 2 weeks, sometimes every week. They would take a very long needle and go in your back and draw the fluid out. It was awful,” Comer said.

But, Comer was too sick for another open heart surgery.

“They said it would kill me,” Comer said.

Instead, Mark Stankewicz, MD, Interventional Cardiologist, Saint Thomas Heart, offered her a new treatment known as, Mitraclip.

A catheter is guided through the leg vein to the heart valve where the Mitraclip is sent, clipping it together.

“There is no incision, the heart is not stopped, it’s beating the whole time,” Dr. Stankewicz said.

It worked for Comer. No shortness of breath. No other symptoms.

“I don’t feel tied down and I do about everything I want to,” Comer said.

Like spending quality time with her daughter.

Unlike traditional surgery, where patients will spend at least a week in the hospital recovering, patients with Mitraclip are generally up the same day and often go home the day after.

Take it to Heart Challenge

News4Jax is working with Baker-Gilmour Cardiovascular Institute, Memorial Hospital and Walgreens to remind people to "Take it to Heart" and to take the Take it to Heart challenge.

The Take it to Heart challenge is designed to get women moving.  On the 4th of every month, on Channel 4, we'll remind everyone to take the 4 step challenge that is designed to change lives and get people moving. 

The challenge consists of four steps. The first is to learn the symptoms of heart disease and to educate yourself and your loves ones about how heart disease symptoms are different in women than they are in men.  

The second step in the Take it to Heart Challenge is to know the individual's risk factors.  Doctors say knowing whether you're diabetic or have elevated cholesterol is key to knowing what changes need to be made to get on the right healthy life track. 

The third step in the challenge may be the most challenging for some people,  to quit smoking.

Finally, the fourth step is exercise.  Getting up and moving will make a huge difference and that's why it's one of the most important parts of the challenge.  Doctors say starting a moderate exercise program means taking steps to better health and the best way to do that, is to work out with a friend. 

To sign up for the Take it to Heart Challenge, head to TakeItToHeartNow.org.

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