Abbott’s tiny clip boosts survival rates among patients with severe heart failure

Another exciting piece of Illinois healthcare news, Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories manufactured a tiny clip that sharply decreased the death rate of people with severe heart failure, a new study found.

Researchers randomly assigned 614 patients with severe heart failure in the United States and Canada to receive either treatment including the device, called the MitraClip, or medical therapy alone.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study found that among those who received only medical treatment, 151 were hospitalized for heart failure over the next two years and 61 died. In contrast, just 92 who received the 4 mm wide MitraClip were hospitalized for heart failure during the same period and 28 died.

This is great news for almost six million Americans living with heart failure. Only 50 percent of all people diagnosed with severe heart failure or congestive heart failure (CAD) survive beyond five years.

Open-heart surgery is currently their best bet; it’s also the most risky. Some people are too sick or too old to survive such an invasive surgery. The MitraClip procedure, on the other hand, is a safer alternative to a bypass.

The study’s results generate a wave of enthusiasm among acclaimed heart specialists. “It’s a huge advance,” said Dr. Howard Herrmann, the director of interventional cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania. “It shows we can treat and improve the outcomes of a disease in a way we never thought we could.”

While Abbot’s MitraClip is a major advance in interventional cardiology, the subspecialty has been around since the 1970s. As a pioneer of interventional cardiology, Dr. Simon Stertzer was the first to perform a coronary angioplasty in the US in 1978.

More than 50,000 people worldwide have received the MitraClip device, according to Abbott. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already approved it for patients unable to undergo surgery, but are otherwise healthy except for a diseased mitral valve.

At $30,000 a piece, the device is not cheap. However, heart specialists are optimistic that insurers including Medicare will be soon covering it. Simply put, Abbot’s tiny clip could be a huge helper for patients suffering from heart failure.

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