FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Severe aortic stenosis is a heart condition that happens when the aortic valve doesn't open properly. Patients used to have to undergo an invasive, open-heart surgery to replace the faulty valve. Now, there's an easier option available to more people who need it.
Ben Lee has been dealing with heart trouble for a long time. Recently, his aortic valve stopped working properly.
"I couldn't be as active as I would like to be and as I was all my life," Ben Lee told ABC30.
The traditional fix was open heart valve replacement, but Dr. J. Kevin Harrison told Ben about a new option called CoreValve.
"Clearly, this is much easier on the body," J. Kevin Harrison, M.D., and Heart Disease Specialist at Duke University told ABC30.
Surgeons guide a catheter from the groin to the heart. The CoreValve is placed over the patient's own, diseased valve. It takes over and ensures that blood flows out of the heart. Doctors hoped the procedure would be just as effective as standard surgery, but they learned it was better.
"The CoreValve patients actually had better outcomes at one year than open surgery, so that was sort of shocking," said Dr. Harrison.
In a New England Journal of Medicine study, the death rate for high-risk patients who had traditional surgery was about 19 percent, but for those who had the CoreValve, it was 14 percent.
"I think that was really earth-shattering news and has taken the field to a whole other level," said Dr. Harrison.
The device was only approved for extreme risk patients, but after the results of the clinical trial, the FDA also approved it for those at high risk.
"Had it done, and it was the greatest thing I ever did in my life!" said Lee. "Don't tell my wife I didn't say marriage was the first!"
Dr. Harrison says researchers are looking into using the CoreValve in other patient populations, like those who are lower risk.
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Easier heart fix: CoreValve
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