Heart Repair without Surgery

December 8, 2008 6:47:21 PM PST
People with heart trouble are getting a second chance with a solution that doesn't require surgery.Not long ago, Gladys Westbrook worried her 80th Birthday might be her last.

Gladys Westbrook has aortic stenosis "I was having a hard time breathing and when I would talk on the telephone, I would have to gasp for breath to finish a sentence."

Gladys suffered heart failure from aortic stenosis narrowing of the main valve that's part of the hearts pumping chamber. Four years ago, doctors told her open heart surgery wasn't an option. She was running out of time.

"He said you would have between two and four years no more than four. Well, this was my fourth year," said Westbrook.

But this year, Gladys learned she was a candidate for a clinical trial at Emory University, testing a non-surgical technique. A catheter pushes a new valve mounted on a metal frame through the artery. Inside the valve a balloon.

Peter Block, MD Cardiologist said, "Then everyone sort of holds their breath and you inflate the balloon. The valve opens up, the supporting structure opens up, which is metal and then we deflate the balloon and take the balloon out and the valve is left in place and begins to work immediately."

Cardiologist Doctor Peter Block says the procedure is still experimental, but ... "My gut tells me that people like Gladys are much better. My gut tells me this is going to work."

Just 30 days after the surgery, Gladys is taking steps toward a healthier future.

"I have had a miracle happen in my life because of what they have been able to do," said Westbrook.

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