Rheumatic Heart disease is a damaging and permanent condition to the heart valves, which will lead to some point in life the needed for replacement. The disease, which is manly conflicting of children all over the world, especially third world countries, is caused by rheumatic fever brought on by streptococcal infection, or strep, which causes damage to not only the heart but joints and nervous system as well. Typically, this could be prevented with a treatment of antibiotics, but in most developing nations, treatments are not available. At the annual congress of the South African Heart Association, a new device, a simplified version of TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) devices that was used for calcific aortic valve disease, was developed for transcatheter aortic valve replacement in patients with rheumatic heart disease. These new devices provide an efficient, less invasive approach to valve replacement procedures.

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Rheumatic heart disease is caused by rheumatic fever, which results from a streptococcal infection. Patients develop fibrosis of the heart valves, leading to valvular heart disease, heart failure and death. According to the South African Cardiac Association, there are 15 million people alone who are affected, with 100,000 people every year requiring valve replacements. The disease is brought on by Rheumatic Fever, an inflammatory disease brought on by inadequately treating a strep infection, found most commonly in children. Usually, course of antibacterial medication is treated, but in developing nation, accesses to these drugs are hardly available.

Typically, when a patient has suffered valve damage, TAVI, otherwise known as Transcatheter aortic valve implantation, was the solution. It is a highly durable human valve shaped device that requires a pacemaker in conjunction with the surgery to successfully be implanted with the help of an expanded balloon to successfully put in place.

The device presented was termed “non-occlusive” not requiring the stopping of blood with a pacemaker, through rapid ventricular pacing. This device allows for a controlled implantation compared to the balloon expanding device of the original TAVI. In the end, this will allow for an easier transplant of the valve, in a safer manner and hopefully be readily available to a long list of individuals suffering from rheumatic heart disease.

Reference:

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160909094840.htm
  2. http://www.chw.org/medical-care/herma-heart-center/conditions/rheumatic-heart-disease/
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatic-fever/basics/risk-factors/con-20031399
  4. http://www.world-heart-federation.org/press/fact-sheets/rheumatic-heart-disease/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3709202/
  6. Image adapted from: http://www.cardiosurgeon.co.uk/images/percutaneousofhd2.png (picture 1)
  7. Image adapted from: http://images.whatistranscatheteraorticvalveimplantation.com.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/TAVI-offerings1.jpg (picture 2)