Treating heart disease without surgery

June 1, 2011 2:46:56 PM PDT
Aortic stenosis is a deadly disease that affects about 100-thousand people a year.

In the past, without open heart surgery, it meant certain death within two years. Now, there's a new way to treat this common disease without surgery.

Gerri Schoolfield was diagnosed with the deadly form of heart disease. It's a healthy valve on the right, but as people get older, their valves and blood vessels tend to get harder and calcify.

Thirty percent of people over age 80 develop it. Ninety-percent of those will die within two years if they don't do anything about

For the last 50 years, the only option for people like Gerri was open heart surgery. But at 88, the procedure itself could prove deadly.

Doctors at Miami's Miller School of Medicine are using a new procedure to treat the disease without surgery.

Here's how it works: a catheter is placed in the leg or chest and is delivered to the heart. Then, a balloon pushes aside the diseased valve and implants a new device.

While the procedure is still in a clinical trial, it should be available for the general public later this year.