Home Lifestyle FirstHealth offers breakthrough treatment for patients with leaking heart valve

FirstHealth offers breakthrough treatment for patients with leaking heart valve

un Moon Kim, M.D., interventional and structural cardiologist with FirstHealth of the Carolinas; Stephen Davies, M.D., MPH, FirstHealth cardiothoracic surgeon.

PINEHURST — On July 2, 2020, a team of heart specialists from the Valve Clinic at FirstHealth’s Reid Heart Center successfully performed the region’s first transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr) with MitraClip therapy, a minimally invasive procedure to treat mitral valve regurgitation, also known as a leaking heart valve.

Mitral valve regurgitation is a condition in which the heart’s mitral valve doesn’t close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in the heart. If the mitral valve regurgitation is significant, blood can’t move through the heart or to the rest of the body as efficiently.

“Patients with severe mitral valve regurgitation may have heart failure symptoms such as fatigue, inability to exercise, difficulty breathing with exertion, or worsening edema (swelling),” said Sun Moon Kim, M.D., interventional and structural cardiologist with FirstHealth of the Carolinas. 

For patients with severe leakage or regurgitation, heart surgery is needed to repair or replace the valve. If left untreated, severe mitral valve regurgitation can lead to heart failure or heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).

 However, not all patients are good candidates for open heart surgery. 

“With the advent of transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr), we are now able to provide a less invasive alternative for patients who are not candidates for open-heart surgery but have persistent symptoms despite medical therapy,” said Stephen Davies, M.D., MPH, FirstHealth cardiothoracic surgeon.

The procedure is performed in a cardiac catheterization lab at Reid Heart Center by a coordinated team of cardiac care specialists that includes an interventional cardiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon.  

During the procedure, the MitraClip is guided into place using a catheter through a small incision in a leg vein. The clip is then attached to the flaps of the mitral valve to help it close more completely and restore normal blood flow thereby decreasing the leak.


Although procedures may vary from person to person, typical procedural time is two to three hours and patients are usually released from the hospital within two to three days.

“Based on recent large clinical trials, TMVr provides clinically important short- and long-term improvements for patients,” said Dr. Kim.  “Patients experience a decreased chance of being hospitalized and an improved quality of life.”

“We are pleased to provide this treatment option for patients at FirstHealth,” he added.  “Expansion in our structural heart disease program allows our patients to get high quality, comprehensive cardiovascular care without the need to travel elsewhere.” 

The FirstHealth Valve Clinic blends the expertise of a team of heart specialists to offer patients a well-rounded, collaborative approach to care.

“The introduction of MitraClip therapy continues our tradition of excellence at FirstHealth,” said Dr. Davies.  “Our comprehensive Valve Clinic offers patients both open-heart surgery for valve repair and replacement for the aortic, mitral and tricuspid valves, and transcatheter-based interventions for the aortic and mitral valves.”

For more information about the FirstHealth Valve Clinic, call 1 (833) 20-VALVE.

Opened in 2011, Reid Heart Center is a state-of-the-art facility on the campus of Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst. In addition to the Valve Clinic, also housed in the Reid Heart Center are the Chest Center of the Carolinas and the FirstHealth Cardiovascular & Thoracic Center.