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Spotlight on Clinical Research: Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month
Michael Cleman
Dr. Michael Cleman
Yale has a long history of excellence in cardiac care and research. In 1949, Yale doctors developed the first artificial heart pump in the United States. Today, we continue to pioneer new heart treatments that have the potential to help millions of patients.

Yale is currently conducting a trial to test a bioabsorbable cardiac stent made of a material that gradually dissolves in the body over a period of two years. Patients in the ABSORB trial are randomly assigned to receive either a standard drug-coated stent or the bioabsorbable stent to treat coronary artery disease. Metal stents are permanent; if the artery re-narrows and requires another stent, a new one must be layered over an existing piece of metal. With the bioabsorbable stent, there is no metallic substance left in the body. There is preliminary evidence that the new stent may offer some other advantages:  the natural function and motion of the artery may return as the stent is absorbed and it may help enable remodeling of the artery so that it becomes larger, with less chance of re-narrowing in the future.

Dr. Michael Cleman, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, oversees the ABSORB trial and is also conducting a clinical trial involving transcatheter aortic valve replacement  (TAVR) for patients with severe aortic stenosis who are at intermediate risk for surgical aortic valve replacement.  Transcatheter aortic valve replacement offers a less invasive approach to open heart surgery in patients with severe aortic stenosis, and has previously shown benefit in extreme-risk and high-risk surgical patients.  Yale has become one of the leading institutions in the US in TAVR therapies, and was recently selected by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) as one of nine sites in the US to participate in the Championing Care for the Patient with Aortic Stenosis initiative.   

There are other cardiology clinical trials testing new stents, as well as a trial that will test a mitral clip. This would be an alternative to valve replacement for patients who have heart failure due to mitral valve regurgitation, in which the mitral valve doesn’t close tightly.“Patients who participate in clinical trials help us learn about new treatments that may be of widespread benefit,” said Dr. Cleman. 

If you have heart disease, February is a good time to see your doctor and find out if you’re eligible for a clinical trial. For information on cardiology clinical trials, contact Dr. Michael Cleman at 203-785-4129.