In the past, open-heart surgery was the only option for patients with damaged heart valves. Now transcatheter mitral valve replacement with MitraClip® therapy offers a minimally invasive alternative for patients who don’t qualify for traditional surgery.
Why Do You Need a MitraClip?
Every heart has four chambers that collect blood and circulate it throughout the body. Heart valves play an important role in this process — they open to allow blood to empty through a chamber and close so blood cannot flow the wrong way.
Mitral regurgitation is a common heart valve problem that occurs when blood leaks backward when the left ventricle contracts. Blood flow in both directions causes increased blood volume and pressure, which can lead to the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the lower body
Although symptoms can range from mild to more severe, regurgitation could cause serious complications and eventually lead to heart failure. If you have severe mitral regurgitation and have not responded to other medical therapy, a MitraClip procedure could help repair the damaged heart valve and improve your quality of life.
Getting Ready for a MitraClip
Speaking with your surgeon and medical team before receiving a MitraClip procedure can help you feel confident before surgery. They will provide you with preparation instructions to follow for up to a week before surgery. Those instructions could include the following:
- Keep the area to be operated on clean to prevent infection.
- Do not consume any food or liquids the night before surgery.
- Pick up any prescribed pain medications or antibiotics.
- Stop certain medications temporarily. Your doctor will advise you about medications that need to be discontinued.
Preparing your home in advance will also make coming home after surgery easier. Having premade meals, a well-stocked pantry and a clean house can help you relax after your operation and focus on healing.
What to Expect During a MitraClip Procedure
During a MitraClip procedure, the surgeon guides a catheter from a vein in the leg to reach the heart. A small, metal clip is inserted onto the flaps of the mitral valve to hold it together. The clip stays inside the body to keep the valve together and stop blood leakage backwards toward the lungs.
Recovering From MitraClip
Because MitraClip placement is a minimally invasive procedure, most patients have a faster recovery time, less pain and not as much blood loss as conventional surgery.
Patients usually stay in the hospital for three days or fewer. When you are ready to return home, you will be given instructions about taking care of the incision and what medications you should take for pain. To reduce swelling, it may be recommended that you keep your legs elevated or wear elastic stockings. Your doctor will give you detailed guidelines about when to resume normal activities.
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