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Novel Therapeutic May Prevent Mitral Valve Damage After Heart Attack

In This Article

  • Damage to the mitral valve occurs in 25 percent of heart attack patients and leads to heart failure and increased risk of death
  • Treatment with hypertension drug reduces valve scarring and stiffening in animal model
  • Study supports further testing in humans to explore a potential new treatment approach after MI

Damage to the mitral valve occurs in 25 percent of heart attack patients and leads to heart failure and increased risk of death. Typically, patients with heart valve disease are treated with interventions such as surgery when their heart is failing. A research team led by Robert Levine, MD, and Jacob Dal-Bianco, MD, of the Heart Valve Program and Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory in the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, set out to see if mitral valve disease could be treated early to reduce progression and keep the heart healthy.

Published in the JACC, the investigators, which include senior co-authors at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham Health, reported that treatment with the antihypertension drug losartan reduced mitral valve damage in an animal model of heart attack, proving it may be possible to treat after a heart attack without surgery.

When there is death of heart muscle, the body responds by producing and sending immune cells and other inflammatory factors the damaged area—transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is one of them. However, an excess level of TGF-beta is known to over activate other cells, which leads to an increase in scarring and stiffening of the mitral valve. The researchers chose the drug losartan because it is known to inhibit the effects of TGF-beta.

Although losartan in an FDA-approved drug, the investigators stress that more research is necessary before its ability to treat mitral valve disease should be tested in human patients.

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