WVU professor presents groundbreaking heart research to a world-leading convention in Paris


PARIS – West Virginia is the least heart-healthy state in the nation, according to American Health Rankings’ 2019 study, but work led by West Virginia University researchers seeks to help improve the lives of patients living with heart disease.

Dr. Vinay Badhwar, chair of the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery department at WVU, presented a paper as the lead author at the prestigious EuroPCR Conference in Paris, France.  EuroPCR is a worldwide event where innovative interventional cardiovascular medicine is featured.

Dr. Badhwar’s research is on mitral valve disease, which is when the heart’s mitral valve–a muscle that opens and closes when the heart beats to allow blood flow throughout the heart–doesn’t open and close properly, which in turn blocks blood flow from coming into the main pumping chamber of the heart.  The disease could cause high blood pressure, blood clots, heart failure or stroke.

Q:  Can you explain more about the research you presented?

A:  The Tendyne Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement Device is really for patients that really do not have another option to treat their leaking mitral valve.  Mitral valve leakage or regurgitation is one of the major causes of congestive heart failure.  And, when patients are not candidates for conventional surgery or other therapies, prior to this type of technology, they would only receive medicines and have a very poor quality of life and limited survival. 

Ourselves at WVU, along with international collaborators from Australia, Europe and around the United States, have shown that, in patients with large hearts and severe leaking of the valve, where other therapies have failed, this particular therapy seems to excel.  And, that’s the significant contribution–that we’ve been able to help with the literature today that was presented and simultaneously published.

Q:  What is the inspiration behind doing the research that you and your team have done?

A:  Many of us in the [cardiovascular] specialty focus on mitral valve disease and its therapies.  At WVU, it is one of the major specialties that we have.  And, the team approach includes heart failure physicians, interventional cardiologists, heart imaging, cardiologists and surgeons.  And, we all together work in unison to determine the right therapy, the right patient, right time.  That’s part of our core mission for the state of West Virginia.  And, we often do mitral valve repair, replacements, transcatheter mitral valve repair.  So, we were the first in the state to do the MitraClip, which is, instead of surgical repair, we place a catheter up the groin and go inside the heart and bring the two leaflets together to do what’s called an edge-to-edge repair to stop the leakage. 

But, in cases where all of those therapies are not feasible or appropriate, based on the patient or his or her risks, that’s when we can now use this transcatheter mitral valve replacement device.  And, we started this a few years ago, and I find that it’s quite a safe procedure despite how high risk these patients are.  And, so it’s enabled, enabled us to treat patients with this disease where we couldn’t before.  And, that’s why we feel that that’s rewarding for us as providers for our state and region, but also allows us to contribute to the progression of the literature and the care of patients around the world. 

Q:  Is there anything you’d like to add?

A:  Part of our mission at WVU and the Heart and Vascular Institute is to innovate while we care for our patients and take the knowledge that we gain at WVU and at the Heart and Vascular Institute and share it with the rest of the world.  And this has been a privilege to be working with all the, the, the physicians at HVI. 

But, most importantly, many of our providers do the exact same, and they travel all around the world speaking about this.  And, what this does, as well, brings other physicians from around the globe to WVU to learn some of these things.  In fact, we have people visiting on a quite-regular basis now.  In fact, I think even in a few weeks, we have surgeons coming from around the world to watch some procedures.  So, it’s part of the development and our contribution to the state, and that’s an extremely rewarding thing to do and a privilege to do so.

To hear the complete interview, click on the video above.

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