A central Ohio woman has become the first in the state -- and one of the first in the nation -- to get a heart repair without open heart surgery.
The clinical trial at Riverside Methodist Hospital could offer a chance for many Americans to breathe easier, 10TV's Andrea Cambern reported on Thursday.
One by one, doctors at Riverside came into Susan Voelker's hospital room to check in on her. It was the day after they gave her a new heart valve.
Each of the doctors who stopped by to visit was amazed and delighted at how fast she was recovering.
Voelker underwent the procedure after her heart valve grew dangerously narrow, causing breathing trouble.
"It really affected me in my breathing and I was fatigued all the time," she said.
The condition is usually treated with open heart surgery and valve replacement.
"Some patients are not good candidates for surgery," said Riverside interventional cardiologist Dr. Steven Yakubov. "They may have other illnesses that may preclude them from having a good outcome in surgery."
So, Yakubov, along with doctors Barry George and Daniel Watson, tried a new, minimally invasive technique. They slipped a collapsed version of an artificial heart valve through a slit in Voelker's heart skin. They threaded it through an artery to her heart, and then opened it up to help blood flow through her heart more easily once again.
Without the need for major surgery, patients should recover more quickly, Yakubov said.
"We have a chance now to treat some patients who did not have options before," he said.
If the procedure works as doctors hope, it may provide a non-surgical fix for the 100,000 Americans each year with aortic valve disease.