Bakersfield Heart Hospital first in Central California to offer new lung valve treatment for COPD patients

Bakersfield Heart Hospital is the first in Central California to offer a new lung valve treatment for patients with severe COPD/emphysema. Recently approved by the FDA under their "Breakthrough Devices" status, the Endoscopic Lung Volume Reduction surgery with Endobronchial Zephyr valves represents a major advancement because it is the first minimally invasive procedure to help emphysema/COPD sufferers breathe easier without major surgery. Done through a simple bronchoscopy, the valves improve patients' quality of life by allowing them to breathe easier, be less short of breath, and be more active and energetic.

We are very excited to bring this new treatment option to our COPD patients in Central California because until this treatment, these patients had very few options. Even despite taking their medications, these patients lived a poor quality of life, struggling with each breath. Until the Zephyr Valve treatment the only options for relief were highly invasive treatments including lung surgeries so having a minimally invasive option now has the potential to improve the quality of life for many patients suffering."

Dr. Rajan Goyal, Bakersfield Heart Hospital

The one-time procedure is done during a simple bronchoscopy that requires no cutting or incisions. During the procedure, on average 4 - 6 tiny valves are placed in the airways to block off the diseased parts of the lungs where air gets trapped. Keeping air from getting trapped in the diseased parts of the lung allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and take in more air. This results in patients being able to breathe easier and have less shortness of breath.

"Before the procedure, I had to stop to catch my breath just walking to the kitchen," explains Roman Weltin who had the Zephyr Valve treatment recently. "Now I can walk out my front door to the corner and back without stopping. I'm getting better and better every day!"

Another patient, Eva Horton, who also had the Zephyr Valve treatment recently says, "Besides being able to breathe without constant oxygen, my energy level is way up!" She adds, "You can't keep me home now!"

Emphysema is a progressive and life-threatening lung disease, and a severe form of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). There is no cure and patients live with severe shortness of breath that keeps them from doing simple daily activities like walking, or taking a shower, without pausing to catch their breath or resting. This extreme shortness of breath is caused when air becomes trapped in parts of the lung that are damaged by the disease. This trapped air causes the damaged areas of the lungs to get larger which puts pressure on the healthy parts of the lungs and diaphragm. During this short procedure, on average a physician places 4 tiny valves in the airways to block off the damage areas of the lungs so air no longer gets trapped there. This allows the healthier parts of the lungs to expand and relieves the pressure on the diaphragm, which decreases shortness of breath and makes breathing easier.

More on the Zephyr valves:

The Zephyr® Valves were fast-tracked through the FDA's "Breakthrough Device" status because they "offer bronchoscopic lung volume reduction without surgery and its associated risks." The FDA's approval was based on the results of four randomized controlled clinical trials, including the US approval study, LIBERATE. Data from the study showed that implantation of the Zephyr Valves successfully reduced shortness of breath while improving lung function, exercise capacity, and quality of life. 1 These benefits lasted at least one-year post-treatment for patients with severe emphysema.

The Zephyr Valves were approved by the FDA in July 2018. Since 2007, more than 15,000 patients have been treated with The Zephyr Valve worldwide. Zephyr Valve treatment is included in emphysema treatment recommendations issued by leading health organizations worldwide, including the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) and the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

More about COPD and emphysema

More than 15 million Americans suffer from COPD, and 3.5 million of those patients have emphysema.2 Despite using COPD medications, over one million emphysema patients continue to suffer symptoms of hyperinflation, in which air becomes trapped in the lungs and prevents new air from coming in, causing severe shortness of breath. Breathing becomes inefficient and patients have to work very hard just to breathe - making normal activities, like walking, eating or even bathing, difficult. There are few treatment options for most patients with emphysema and there is no cure. Until now, the only other options for these patients were highly invasive treatments such as lung volume reduction surgery or lung transplantation.

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