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Alternative to open heart surgery emerges following NIHR research

The less invasive procedure offers an equally effective alternative for heart condition patients.

Researchers at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre have shown that a less invasive heart procedure for a common condition is just as effective as conventional open-heart surgery.

The study compared Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) to conventional surgery while treating severe symptomatic aortic stenosis.

It is the first publicly-funded research of its kind and involved every centre in the UK that performs TAVI – a procedure in which a new valve is threaded through a small tube inserted into an artery in the groin, upper arm, or chest.

Professor William Toff, Professor of Cardiology at the University of Leicester’s Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, led the UK TAVI study. He explained: “It’s great news for patients that TAVI is just as safe and effective as surgery even in patients at lower operative risk. This procedure is much less invasive than conventional approaches.”

Patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis suffer a narrowing of the valve that blood flows through as it leaves the heart. Treatment often requires surgery and the condition is associated with a poor prognosis, with most patients dying two to three years after diagnosis. Symptoms include shortness of breath and fatigue which can become life-threatening.

It is estimated that 1.5% of UK adults over 55, and 3.5% of those over 75, have the condition.

Professor Toff concluded: “People who would otherwise require open-heart surgery can have this procedure, and as it has a faster recovery time it means a shorter stay in hospital for patients.”