New heart valve surgery being funded (10/05/31)

NB 847

May 31, 2010

SAINT JOHN (CNB) - Patients with a serious heart valve condition, known as aortic stenosis, who previously could not get treatment in the province, are now being offered a life-saving, minimally invasive surgery at the New Brunswick Heart Centre (NBHC).



The Department of Health is providing $228,000 to fund the delivery of the new procedure, known as Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI).

"The investment will further support the delivery of leading-edge treatments for provincial patients at the New Brunswick Heart Centre," said Health Minister Mary Schryer. "The availability of this new procedure in New Brunswick will provide treatment closer to home for patients and improve their quality of life."

The minister joined Donald J. Peters, president and chief executive officer of Horizon Health Network, in making the announcement today.

Dr. Vernon Paddock, medical director at the NBHC, said that many patients with narrowed aortic valves - a life-threatening ailment - are not physically able to undertake open-heart surgery. Some of those people will now benefit from the TAVI system.

"Before the new TAVI system was adopted, if a patient with a narrowed aortic valve, known as aortic stenosis, was not able to undergo open heart surgery, he or she had few options in New Brunswick," Paddock said. "Now, we are able to offer a safe, effective and minimally invasive procedure that restores his or her heart function."

During the TAVI procedure, rather than opening the chest to replace a narrowed or faulty aortic valve, a catheter is threaded through an artery in the groin and a new valve is advanced into the aorta through the femoral artery and set in place using an inflatable balloon. The new valve essentially takes over for the old, narrowed valve. With the new implant in place allowing normal blood flow, the person's heart function can return to normal.

In addition to the funding for the new TAVI procedure, the Department of Health is providing an additional $1.5 million to the NBHC in 2010-11. The funding is being made available to improve access to cardiac surgery services through the expansion of operation room times, additional intensive-care beds and additional nursing and support staff.


MEDIA CONTACTS: Marie-Andrée Bolduc, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-3506; Tracey Shipley, communications, Horizon Health Network, 506-648-7916.