An innovative, non-invasive procedure to repair faulty valves in the heart has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for use on the NHS.
Until now, patients needing mitral valve repair have only had the option to undergo open heart surgery, often deemed too risky for those considered elderly or frail.
The new procedure will be performed under general anaesthesia, during which a surgeon uses ultrasound to pass a stainless steel clip through a vein in the groin into the mitral valve inside the heart.
Only patients who have too great a risk for open heart surgery will be considered for the treatment, which must be undertaken by an experienced team of clinicians working in specialist centres.
“This innovative procedure can reduce the symptoms of heart failure and improve quality of life,” said Professor Kevin Harris, programme director and clinical advisor for the Interventional Procedures Programme at NICE.
“The latest evidence was reviewed by a NICE committee which concluded that the procedure worked well enough and was safe enough to be offered to those too old or too sick to have their mitral valve repaired through open heart surgery. The procedure has the potential to improve their symptoms and to extend their lives.”
Around 1.5 million people in the UK aged 65 or over are thought to have heart valve disease, including aortic stenosis and mitral regurgitation, and estimates suggest this will double by 2046 and rise to 3.3m in 2056, due to an ageing population.