CLEVELAND (KFSN) -- A heart valve replacement involves swapping a damaged valve with an artificial one. There are two kinds of artificial valves and until now, younger patients were only able to get one type. But a new, state-of-the-art valve is changing the game.
Carrie Hughes was born with a heart valve defect, but she didn't know it until symptoms popped up a couple of years ago.
"I started having shortness of breath, a hard time getting around," Hughes said.
This active mom of three also battled limb numbness and extreme fatigue.
"It took everything I had to kind of get up and go and start the day," she continued.
Hughes needed a heart valve replacement. In the past, doctors only offered young patients like Hughes a mechanical valve because it lasts the longest. The downside: she'd have to take blood thinners for the rest of her life. These meds can cause serious dangers such as bleeding, drug interactions, and more.
But doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are using a new type of biological valve that could last longer and be an option for young patients.
Dr. Lars Svensson, the Chairman of the Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic said, "We hope that this valve would fill a niche there for the younger patient who wants a more durable, long-term valve."
With a biological valve, patients don't have to take blood thinners. The new valve is made from a cow's heart sac. Its anti-calcification properties allow it to last longer than traditional biological valves. And its expandable frame allows for an easy replacement if a new valve is needed down the road.
"Right now, I feel so much better. I can tell a big difference," said Hughes.
With her new valve in place, she's ready to start living life again.
Doctor Svensson says it will likely take another ten to 15 years before researchers know for sure if this valve will last as long as they think. So far it seems very durable. In a clinical trial, this biological valve was used in over 600 patients, and now that it's FDA approved, patients like Hughes can benefit.
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Biological heart valve for young patients
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