AT A GLANCE: Technique to heal cardiac defect gets PR roll out

What’s going on?
Nasdaq-listed US company NMT Medical is to launch a new technology for the treatment of a common cardiac defect in the UK. BioSTAR will help heal patent foramen ovale (PFO) – a hole, which usually closes at birth between the right and left atria of the heart.

Why is that so significant?
Because research suggests that PFO may be linked to migraine and, more importantly, can be the trigger for cerebral events such as stroke by allowing unfiltered blood and fat particles – called microemboli – to pass directly into arterial circulation. Around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke each year, and one in eight is affected by migraine.

Who’s handling the PR?
Soho-based Ash Communications is carrying out a media relations-led campaign targeting UK consumer and specialist media with news, feature ideas and case studies. The UK launch is planned for this month and there is the potential to roll out the comms programme across Europe as approval is secured in other markets.

What’s special about BioSTAR?
It’s the first bioabsorbable device for the heart, so it disappears once its job is done. The patient’s natural healing process gradually replaces 90-95 per cent of the implant over time with healthy, normal native tissue. BioSTAR can also do this within 30 days, whereas current technology can cause scar tissue to form and can take up to six months to effectively repair the heart. It will be promoted as quick, effective and safe and as leaving behind minimal alien material in the heart itself.

Who will be using it?
Health professionals involved in cardiac interventions. An angioplasty procedure is used to place the device, which sits on the right atrium and left atrium of the heart, effectively closing the hole between the chambers. In a UK-based clinical trial, 96 per cent of patients achieved complete PFO closure in six months, with no adverse events reported.

What’s the prevalence of PFO?
It is estimated to be as high as 25 per cent of the general population, but in patients who have a stroke of unknown cause, it increases to about 40 per cent. Each year, just 800-1,000 people in the UK have a PFO closed.

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