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Study shows new treatment for heart disease can save lives

In yet another advancement in the expanding field of minimally invasive therapeutic treatments, a study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine today showed that implanting a prosthetic heart valve percutaneously through an artery in the groin directly into the beating heart can save lives.

Stanford was one of 21 institutions to participate in the study, which found that patients who have severe aortic stenosis, a disease that limits the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body, and who are too sick or too old for open-heart surgery, benefit both in terms of length of life and quality of life when the new prosthetic valve is implanted.

Surgeon D. Craig Miller, MD, told me he was excited by the findings, which represent a major medical paradigm shift. "Before, there was nothing we could really offer them," he said of these very ill patients.

The device that was tested - a valve made of a stainless-steel stent and cow pericardium - hasn't been approved by the FDA and is not yet commercially available in the U.S. The research was sponsored by Edwards Lifesciences Corp., which designs, manufactures and markets tissue heart valves.

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