Thousands more Australians now eligible for heart valve disease keyhole surgery
Thousands more Australians will be eligible for keyhole surgery in the treatment of heart valve disease.
Open heart surgery is the conventional way to treat the abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart, called aortic stenosis.
More than 50,000 Australians currently live with some form of this severe disease which is commonly caused by the build up of calcium.
"It makes people short of breath, can lead to blackouts and angina. Eventually you will die from it unless it's corrected," Associate Professor Tony Walton, Director of Cardiac Laboratories at the Alfred Hospital, said.
Until now, minimally invasive surgery was only available to people who were too sick or frail to undergo an open heart operation.
But compelling evidence from trials prompted Australia's medical watchdog, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to widen access to more patients in public hospitals.
"The TGA has now approved the use of these valves in younger and a much wider group of patients," Dr Walton said.
It's estimated that an additional 20,000 Australians could now qualify for the minimally invasive procedure which allows patients to leave hospital faster and recover sooner.
"Rather than a general anaesthetic and somebody's chest being opened to replace the heart valve, we can do this while we are still talking to the patient and they often go home in two or three days," Dr Walton said.
The procedure, called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), has been used since 2008 but evidence of its benefits have been building over the years.
The TAVI procedure involves a small incision, usually in the groin, to insert a new bioprosthetic valve through the artery to the heart.