Research, along with guidelines from the American Heart Association® (AHA), indicates that patients who have primary mitral regurgitation would benefit from mitral valve repair rather than replacement. But over the last few decades, there has been great variance in the management of patients with the condition, with patients who are referred for surgery undergoing mitral valve replacement rather than repair.
“We are still seeing across the country too many patients who have repairable valves actually receiving mitral valve replacement,” said Dr. Robert Bonow, Professor of Cardiology at Northwestern University, member of the Mitral Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, and past President of the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association recommends that patients who require surgery for mitral regurgitation be sent to centers expert in mitral valve repairs.1 But up until recently there was no standard way that patients and physicians could identify the best surgeons and hospitals for mitral valve repair surgery.
“There is no question that the patients benefit when they are (treated by) more experienced surgeons and, frankly, the surgeons execute better surgery when they do more of them,” said Dr. David Adams, Professor and Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System and President of the Mitral Foundation.
In an effort to offer patients and physicians a way to differentiate hospitals and surgeons who prioritize mitral valve reconstruction and have delivered high quality outcomes for the procedures, the American Heart Association and the Mitral Foundation have created a recognition program to identify, award and promote the best centers for mitral valve repair surgery.
“Let’s define and recognize centers that are truly expert in the surgical management of patients with mitral regurgitation because when it is done well, we return patients to a good quality of life with the lifespan of the average population,” Bonow said.
The Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award, which launched in late 2019, is intended to increase the number of patients who receive mitral valve repair rather than replacement when appropriate by offering them information about centers that are performing the procedure with high quality outcomes.
The program is aligned with others from the AHA which publishes clinical practice guidelines and scientific statements on various cardiovascular diseases as part of its Get With The Guidelines® program.