New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke back in 2005, because he had a hole in his heart that allowed a blood clot to pass to his brain. State-of-the-art treatment at the time was for doctors to do surgery, patching it up with an implantable metal-and-fabric device.
If Redmond, WA-based CoAptus Medical is successful, then a few years from now people like Bruschi will have a new option: a non-invasive way to seal up these heart defects without any implant. This week, the Redmond, WA-based company raised $3 million to pursue tests to see if it can make this idea work. CoAptus is led by president Joe Eichinger, and is backed by David Auth, the founder and former CEO of Heart Technology, who sold that company to Boston Scientific for more than $500 million in 1995.
CoAptus is seeking to solve a fairly common defect called a patent foramen ovale, which is a flap-like opening between upper chambers of the heart, Eichinger says. It usually closes up naturally after a baby is born, but doesn’t for many people. The defect, found in 20 to 25 percent of the U.S. population, is normally not a big problem, but it has been linked to higher risk of severe migraine headaches and stroke, he says. If this passageway remains open, even a relatively healthy person like an NFL linebacker can form blood clots while sedentary on a long flight, leading clots to travel to the brain and cause trouble. Something like 40 percent of the 750,000 strokes suffered in the U.S. each year are from unknown causes, and heart defects are one possible culprit, Eichinger says.
Of course, not everyone with the defect will seek out a procedure to prevent a stroke. But CoAptus hopes patients might be more inclined to get the procedure if it can seal up the defect without leaving behind an implant that might someday cause complications, like heart perforations, blood clot formation, or make it more difficult to have open-heart surgery if needed.
“Our whole claim is that we don’t leave anything behind in your heart,” Eichinger says.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: CoAptus is using radio-frequency (RF) waves to heat up the tissue near the flap in the heart, which he described as being like a shirt pocket. The company’s device is mounted … Next Page »
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