Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute First in Wisconsin to Implant Coapsys Heart Device

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Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute cardiac surgeon Fernando A. Riveron, M.D. recently became the first physician in Wisconsin to implant the Myocor® Coapsys System to treat mitral regurgitation, an increasingly common heart problem. Aspirus is participating in a clinical trial testing the device's ability to repair dysfunctional mitral valves without stopping the patient's heart during surgery.

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Aspirus Heart & Vascular Institute surgeon Fernando A. Riveron, M.D. has successfully implanted the first Coapsys® device in Wisconsin.

Aspirus joins 21 other sites nationwide - including New York University Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic - in evaluating the safety and effectiveness of the Myocor® Coapsys System through an FDA research study and clinical trial. The new device is intended to reduce the amount of improper blood flow in the heart, improve cardiac function and potentially reduce the cost of heart care for a growing number of people suffering with valve problems.

'Mitral valve insufficiency or mitral regurgitation is a condition in which the mitral valve does not adequately close, resulting in the blood flowing backward,' Dr. Riveron said. 'This backward flow causes the heart to work harder, and can result in shortness of breath, decreased energy, generalized weakness and fluid retention.'

Mitral regurgitation is an increasingly common health concern. According to the National Library of Medicine, some degree of mitral regurgitation is found in almost 20 percent of men and women who have an echocardiogram after the age of 55. Valve repair or replacement surgery often can help, but it fails to address the root cause of the problem the way researchers hope the implant can.

The implant procedure involves the placement of two pads that sit on the surface of the heart with a cord passing between them and through the left ventricle. Surgeons draw the pads together in tiny increments, which reshapes the left ventricle and improves heart function. The procedure is less invasive than traditional open-heart surgery because it doesn't require doctors to stop the heart or use large incisions.

"The option to repair the valve without having to open the heart or use cardiopulmonary bypass may be very beneficial to these patients," Dr. Riveron said.

His first patient, an 80-year-old man from Wisconsin Rapids, viewed the procedure as an opportunity to help others and as a new chance for improving the quality of his life when other treatment options weren't favorable.

The research study, RESTOR-MV (Randomized Evaluation of a Surgical Treatment for Off-pump Repair for the Mitral Valve), is a prospective, randomized clinical trial that will include up to 250 patients. Aspirus is a participant because it has a high quality research program and has surgeons experienced in performing valve and beating-heart procedures.

The AHVI is located at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, a 2008 HealthGrades Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence ranking in the top 5 percent in the nation for overall clinical quality. It is the fifth consecutive year Aspirus has made the list, the only hospital in Wisconsin - and one of just 63 in the nation - with that distinction.

According to the Tenth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study issued in fall 2007, Aspirus Wausau Hospital ranks No. 1 in Wisconsin for overall cardiac services and vascular surgery. The study, the largest of its kind, analyzed patient outcomes at virtually all of the nation's 5,000 hospitals.

About Aspirus
Aspirus is a non-profit, community-directed health system based in Wausau, Wis. With more than 3,900 employees, Aspirus serves people in 14 Wisconsin counties and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan through an affiliated hospital and physician network; home health and hospice care; skilled nursing homes; pharmacies; critical care and helicopter transport services; durable medical goods; a large volunteer corps; a philanthropic and research foundation; and an extensive clinics network.

Andy Napgezek, Communications/Public Relations Manager
Aspirus Wausau Hospital

Greg Aune, Media/Communications Specialist
Aspirus Wausau Hospital


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