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Wichita's Via Christi First In U.S. To Perform Leading-Edge Heart Treatment

Via Christi

Via Christi Hospital St. Francis is the first hospital to perform a minimally invasive heart valve treatment as part of a national clinical study.

The procedure will allow doctors to replace damaged mitral heart valves without open-heart surgery.

People with mitral regurgitation face a life-threatening disease in which blood flows backward into the left atrium of the heart. If left untreated, the disease can cause stroke, heart failure or death.

Bassem Chehab is medical director for the Via Christi Structural Heart program. He says the procedure can help treat patients who otherwise might be considered high risk for surgery.

“It's an aggressive therapy when you have open-heart surgery,” Chehab said. “When there is something minimally invasive that can come and take the place of open-heart surgery on someone who's extremely high risk for surgery, that's a godsend.”

One in every 10 people over the age of 75 will experience mitral regurgitation issues, Chehab said. People older than 75 are considered high risk for surgery and are more likely to qualify for the minimally invasive procedure.

Chehab says the treatment is the first-of-its-kind in the United States. Wichita is the only location in Kansas and just one of eight sites in the Midwest to participate in the study.

Two treatments have been completed at St. Francis, and Chehab said there are “many waiting to get done.” According to Abbott, the device manufacturer that is leading the study, up to 1,010 patients at 80 international sites in the United States, Europe and Canada will be enrolled in the study.

Evan Pflugradt is an intern in the KMUW News Lab. Follow him on Twitter @Evpflu.