Tiny Device May Give New Life to Severe Heart Failure Patients

A Dallas man says he's alive because of a device smaller than the size of a thumb.

He was recently part of a clinical trial for a groundbreaking treatment for severe heart failure.

After 23 years, Scotty Keith knows just about everyone at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital.

"You can see I'm blessed to have some wonderful wonderful friends here!" says Keith.

He's is also a longtime patient.

He has heart failure that recently became so severe, it left him gasping for air most nights.

"To wake up gasping for breathe two or three times a night gets to you, it really does. You think, 'this is it. This is the end. I can't live past this,'"says Keith.

Keith suffers from secondary mitral regurgitation. 

These heart failure patients’ mitral valves leak, causing blood to back up into the heart and forcing the organ to work harder to circulate blood throughout the body.  

Dr. Paul Grayburn, Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology and Medical Director of Cardiology Research and Education enrolled Keith in a clinical trial to see whether a device called MitraClip could fix the mitral valve in secondary mitral regurgitation patients.

During a 45 minute procedure, Dr. Grayburn inserted the MitraClip, a product made by Abbott, in the valve to "clip" together the leaflets that failed to seal, causing blood to flow back into the heart.

Imaging shows the blood flow going back into Keith's heart was dramatically reduced.

"We can reduce mortality by 40 percent in these patients by putting a little clip on the valve and pinning it together where it leaks," said Dr. Grayburn.  "For those patients who have severe mitral regurgitation and haven't responded to other therapies, this is literally life saving."

Keith says his energy is back and he is able to breathe normally.

Most importantly, he's able to sleep.

"I'm getting good at that," he laughs.

It's expected that the FDA will approve the use of the MitraClip for treatment of secondary mitral regurgitation.

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