Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) has made history by being the first hospital in the ASEAN region to successfully implant an advanced man-made heart valve in a patient.
The valve, called Myval, is made of biological tissue and is intended for those who need transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI). TAVI is a relatively new procedure that is widely used to treat patients with aortic stenosis, especially those who are considered at high risk for open-heart surgery.
Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the opening of the aortic valve of the heart is decreased and is one of the most prevalent heart conditions in the developing world.
This in turn restricts the blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body, causing a greater strain on the heart. The condition often develops due to age, as calcium build-up causes blockages to the valve.
Patients do not necessarily display symptoms immediately, but as the condition worsens, they may gradually experience adverse effects such as breathlessness, chest pains, and blackouts. Aortic stenosis usually leads to heart failure and death if left untreated.
Although open-heart surgery to replace the valve is the conventional treatment for aortic stenosis, some 30 percent of patients are unable to undergo surgery due to risk factors such as other underlying conditions and age.
Therefore, the TAVI procedure is a minimally invasive approach to the treatment of this condition for such high-risk patients. In TAVI, doctors insert a catheter into the femoral artery (a large artery in the leg) or the chest through a small incision.
A replacement valve is then inserted through the catheter and guided to the heart. Aside from being a viable option for those who are unable to undergo surgery, the procedure is also associated with faster recovery rates, as well as less pain and trauma.
IJN has been a pioneer of TAVI regionally, being the first centre in Asia to introduce the procedure. Since 2009, IJN has successfully carried out TAVI with a multidisciplinary team comprising cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, anaesthetists and paramedical staff.
In this regard, the Myval device is an addition to IJN’s existing capabilities. IJN Senior Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Shaiful Azmi Yahaya explained that due to its unique design, the Myval enables doctors to carry out the procedure with even greater precision.
“For instance, one significant benefit of this device is the ‘navigator delivery system’, which enables the surgeon to guide the valve into the heart more efficiently. By improving the accuracy of this valve implantation, we can also reduce the patient’s chances of requiring a pacemaker later on,” Dr. Shaiful said.
“Such technological improvements to the TAVI procedure will enable more patients to benefit from it, especially those who are unable to withstand the risks of undergoing surgery. Continuous innovation is what we need to keep doing what IJN does best; adopt the latest yet safest technology to improve the lives of our patients,” he added.
Notably, the first patient to receive Myval from IJN was an 83-year-old patient with severe aortic stenosis, who was previously experiencing shortness of breath and heart pain due to her condition. The implantation was successfully completed this morning at 10:45am.