Implanted filter reduces brain injury after heart valve replacement

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Study shows brain lesions cut 50 percent in patients with artery filter. (WPVI)

A new device could reduce the risk of strokes after heart valve replacement.

When patients have what's called a TAVR procedure, where the valve is replaced through a catheter, particles of tissue and plaque in blood vessels can come loose and go to the brain.

Reports show there's up to an 8 percent risk for small or large strokes, particularly in the weeks just after the TAVR procedure.

"Because of the material, you have neurologic injuries, like little strokes or little cerebral (brain) infarcts," says Dr. Avel Linke, University of Leipzig Heart Center.

They show up on scans as little lesions, or holes, in the brain.

But Dr. Linke and his colleagues in Germany say putting a filter into the carotid arteries, the vessels in the neck supplying the brain, cuts the risk.

In a test with 100 patients, half got the filter, half did not.

At two to seven days after the procedure, patients got MRI scans to look for brain lesions.

Those who had the filter had 50 percent fewer lesions, and they were 50 percent smaller.

They want more studies to see if this will reduce the rate of strokes.
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