Canada leads in new heart valve replacement surgery

    QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada is the world leader in a new
surgical technique that is transforming the lives of patients too sick to
undergo conventional treatment to replace diseased aortic valves.
    One hundred patients have been treated and the results are excellent,
says Dr. John Webb, whose team is pioneering the new surgery at St. Paul's
Hospital in Vancouver.
    "This is a new procedure. When we started, people didn't think it was
going to work," says Dr. Webb. "So we took patients who were thought to be too
high a risk for conventional surgery."
    Over 13,000 Canadians undergo surgery every year to replace aortic valves
that have become partially blocked or weakened, Dr. Webb's team member 
Dr. Robert Boone told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2007, co-hosted by
the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
    "Dr. Webb's work is giving new hope to Canadians living with heart
disease, and clearly demonstrates Canadian leadership in revolutionary
treatments for valvular heart disease," said Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and
Stroke Foundation spokesperson and cardiologist.
    The aortic valve allows blood to flow from the heart's lower left chamber
into the aorta and to the rest of the body. The aortic valve can become leaky
or blocked, and when that happens angina and heart failure can result. Seventy
five to 80 per cent of people who have symptoms will die in three to five
years if they do not have the valve replaced.
    The conventional approach to valve replacement involves sawing the breast
bone in half, stopping the heart, putting the patient on a heart/lung machine,
removing the old valve and sewing in a new one.
    "Any way you look at it, that's major surgery," Dr. Josep Rodés Cabau
told the Congress. Dr. Rodés Cabau has performed the surgery in Quebec.
    The new procedure uses percutaneous aortic surgery to replace the
defective valve.
    In percutaneous surgery a needle puncture in a blood vessel is used to
insert a balloon catheter, mounted with the new valve. The balloon is used to
expand the new valve inside the old valve, which it pushes out of the way.
    The technique is performed under local anaesthesia and light sedation.
    "These patients had been rejected for surgery because they had a one in
three chance of dying. So we took them on and our mortality was one in 10
after 30 days - much less than had been anticipated," says Dr. Webb.
    "Today our results using percutaneous surgery are better than expected
for people who are too high risk for conventional surgery."
    The concept of aortic valve replacement was first proposed in the 1990s
in Denmark. The first surgery in Canada, performed by Dr. Webb, was in 2004.
    Dr. Abramson of the Heart and Stroke Foundation says, "This minimally
invasive technique is promising and will hopefully affect clinical practice
not only in Canada but around the world. What is particularly encouraging is
the short amount of time that it takes these patients to get back to normal

    Video footage and illustrations of the procedure are available to the

    Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study
authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation policy or position. The
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada makes no representation or warranty as
to their accuracy or reliability.

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation (, a
volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke
and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its
application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

For further information:

For further information: and/or interviews, contact the CCC 2007 MEDIA
OFFICE AT (418) 649-5215 (Oct 21-24); Marie-Christine Garon, Massy-Forget
Public Relations, (514) 842-2455 ext. 23,; Congress
information and media registration at; After October
24, 2007, contact: Jane-Diane Fraser, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada,
(613) 569-4361 ext 273,

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