Fixing Joanne’s Leaky Heart Valve with MitraClip™

Dr. Hansen holding insertion device | Doylestown Health

Joanne Rodgers, 69, of Lansdale, PA, loves her active lifestyle. Even in retirement, she works part-time as a caregiver and enjoys making Uber Eats deliveries in her spare time.

In August 2021, she started to feel short of breath. “I was exhausted, retaining fluid and gaining weight. I have a history of heart problems, but my symptoms had been under control, so these new challenges were a concern. I could no longer keep up with my job and had to cut back on activities,” says Joanne.

Tests showed that Joanne’s mitral valve was damaged and leaking, a condition known as mitral valve regurgitation. The leaking was severe, so she would require a mitral valve repair or replacement.

About Mitral Valve Regurgitation

The four heart valves keep a person’s blood flowing in one direction, from the heart into the body. The valves are one-way doors made up of leaflets, which open so blood can flow forward, then close to prevent blood from flowing backward. The leaflets of a damaged mitral valve do not close properly, which allows blood to leak (regurgitate) backward. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body and forces the heart to work harder. Regurgitation eventually causes fluid to collect in the lungs (pulmonary edema).

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • A fluttering or fast heart beat
  • Heart murmur
  • Swollen feet

Without treatment, a leaky mitral valve can lead to problems including:

  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs
  • Cardiac arrest

MitraClip Saves the Day

Joanne decided, with her cardiologists, that MitraClip™, a catheter-based technique for mitral valve repair was her best option.

“A less invasive option like the MitraClip can help people who have mitral valve regurgitation who are not good candidates for traditional open-heart surgery due to age, complex medical problems or previous open-heart surgery,” says James W. Hansen, DO, a fellowship-trained Doylestown Health interventional cardiologist.

“Intervention with catheters rather than surgery for the treatment of structural heart disease has opened the door to new options for our patients,” says Dr. Hansen. “With a MitraClip, we can repair the leaky valve, provide symptom relief and in some cases extend a patient’s life without open heart surgery. Patients go home within a day or two if there are no complications.”

Joanne’s MitraClip Fix

In November 2021, Dr. Hansen, joined by a cardiothoracic surgeon, imaging specialist and an anesthesiologist, placed Joanne’s MitraClip. Threading the tiny, fabric-covered metal clip through a leg artery and up to Joanne’s heart, Dr. Hansen carefully positioned the clip above her mitral valve. When he identified the area with the most regurgitation, he released the clip, pinning the leaflets together. With the mitral clip in place, Joanne’s valve could close again and her leak stopped.

Back to Living!

Less than a month after her repair, Joanne has returned to her caregiver position and is enjoying life.

“The experience was amazing! I came out of anesthesia feeling alert and more energetic — 100% better. This was a miracle for me, and I am so grateful,” says Joanne, noting that the repair also improved her congestive heart failure symptoms. “Everyone at Doylestown Hospital was gracious, kind and accommodating. I appreciate the quality of care instilled in people working there.”


About Doylestown Health's Heart & Vascular Services

Expert cardiologists and cardiac surgeons assist patients and physicians with managing risk factors for heart disease, offer advanced treatment options and provide outstanding emergency cardiac care. Doylestown Hospital’s accredited Chest Pain Center is fully prepared to treat cardiac emergencies around the clock, focusing on rapid diagnosis and effective treatment. The multidisciplinary team at the Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care is dedicated to providing the highest level of quality care and patient safety.

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