Open-heart surgery has been the status quo for a long time, and for younger patients, it works. The problem is, seniors, a group of people more likely to be afflicted by a heart ailment, are much less likely to survive the procedure. But a recent trial of a new technique might be a better alternative: A team at Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne has successfully replaced heart valves in 11 elderly women without going open-heart.

The women all suffered from aortic stenosis, a disease that narrows the heart’s main valve. Doctors used a replacement valve called a “lotus valve” that can be attached to the end of a wire and fed into the heart. Once it’s there, it unfolds and starts working. All 11 of the women made it through the process.

That’s really good news. Right now, only about a third of elderly people live for two years with aortic stenosis. We’ll wait and see what kind of wider release and use the lotus valve gets; the next trial run will have 16 facilities in four countries using the valve.

Monash University