ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Singapore uses new heart procedure
A new minimally invasive procedure to treat patients with heart valve problems has been performed for the first time in Asia at the National Heart Centre Singapore.
The MitraClip procedure is said to be able to improve a patient's heart function and relieve breathlessness.
The centre has performed this treatment on four patients to date.
One of them is 68-year-old Margaret Lim, who had the procedure in April this year.
Before the treatment, Madam Lim experienced shortness of breath.
She opted for the MitraClip procedure as her history of surgeries and lung disease deemed her unsuitable for open heart surgery.
That is because Madam Lim is considered a high surgical risk patient.
This new treatment is targeted at patients with severe mitral valve regurgitation -- a condition where the heart's valve does not close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in the heart.
If left untreated, about 30 per cent of these patients could die within six years.
It may also lead to irregular heartbeat and worsening congestive heart failure.
The procedure is performed through a small incision in the groin.
A 4mm-wide metallic clip is delivered through a tube to the heart.
The leaky valve is clipped in the middle, thereby reducing the amount of regurgitation.
National Heart Centre Singapore's Department of Cardiology consultant Yeo Khung Keong said: "The key point is that they have great safety.
"Procedure is done safely. Patients have a very short hospital stay. They do not require to be put on a prolonged mechanical ventilation or life support.
"Patients don't require as much in terms of blood transfusion and overall, the patients feel better, faster."
But Dr Yeo cautioned there are some risks with the procedure, such as bleeding complications.
For Madam Lim, she still needs to take medication for her weak heart, but she said she has more energy now.
The centre expects to see about two to four patients a month seeking this treatment.
This treatment is not meant as routine therapy for patients who are at low risk and who may otherwise benefit from current surgical techniques.
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