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05 August 2015

BHI wins funding to perform new cardiac procedure

The Bristol Heart Institute has been selected as an evaluation centre to offer an innovative new treatment for people with severe cardiac problems.

The BHI beat competition from other top hospitals across England to win funding to perform the MitraClip procedure. MitraClip is aimed at patients suffering from breathlessness and tiredness who have a leak in their mitral valve, which helps control blood flow through the heart.

The procedure enables cardiologists and surgeons to repair the leak through keyhole surgery. The MitraClip device is inserted into the groin before being guided through the femoral vein up to the heart. The clip is then attached to the mitral valve and closed, greatly reducing or stopping the leak entirely.

The BHI is one of only three hospitals that have been selected to offer the procedure through NHS England's Commissioning through Evaluation programme. Each hospital will perform 40 procedures over the next year, before the results are analysed to inform whether MitraClip should be funded more widely in the NHS.

The BHI was selected as an evaluation centre for the procedure partly because of its expertise in surgical mitral valve repair and its successful programme of keyhole procedures for structural and valve disease.

Peggy Monkman from Bath was one of the first patients to undergo the procedure. "Before having the treatment, I was beginning to get desperate. I am a carer for my husband who has Alzheimer's and I couldn't do very much at all. When I went shopping, I had to stop every few seconds because I was so breathless. When I went upstairs, I had to drag myself up the steps. Since having the procedure, I feel wonderful and my quality of life is far better. I have a new strength and I am in a better position to care for my husband. I am so grateful to all the clinicians involved. They were marvellous."

Mark Turner, consultant cardiologist, said: "We are thrilled to have been selected to offer the treatment. We've had excellent results from the procedures we've performed so far. One patient was in hospital for only two days before going home. The procedure provides an option for seriously ill patients who have few other treatment alternatives. Generally those who undergo the MitraClip procedure are high risk patients who are not suitable for open heart surgery because of other health conditions."

Franco Ciulli, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, said: "MitraClip is a procedure which has been carried out in only the most highly accredited centres worldwide. The BHI comprises a highly specialised team of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, who are now able to offer this minimally invasive approach for mitral valve patients suffering with heart failure and severe symptoms of breathlessness. We are encouraged by the excellent results so far."