Study backs nonsurgical way to fix heart valves

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study gives a boost to fixing a bad aortic valve, the heart's main gate, without open-heart surgery. Survival rates were better one year later for people who had a new valve placed through a tube into an artery instead.

Several hundred thousand Americans have bad aortic valves, which can stiffen and narrow with age and not let blood through as they should. The only solution used to be open-heart surgery to replace one.

The study tested an artificial valve from Medtronic Inc. that can be placed through a catheter instead. After one year, 19 percent of the surgery patients but only 14 percent of those given the catheter valve had died.

The results were reported Saturday at an American College of Cardiology conference in Washington.

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