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Clot risk worries with some heart valve implants surprise doctors

Medical devices are big business. They haven't been around for all that long, however. A timeline offered up by the Morgridge Institute for Research suggests that the first such device worthy of bearing the label was the sphygmomanometer, invented in 1881. That's the thing doctors and nurses use to check your blood pressure.

A lot of external devices have since come along. And in more recent decades, medical technologists have found ways to start implanting devices inside our bodies. But as we noted in a post back in May, sometimes those devices malfunction with serious or even fatal consequences.

If a patient is lucky, the issue is discovered and fixed before any significant damage occurs. Sometimes, though, the discovery comes too late. When that happens, victims in Texas should not be shy about learning what options are available for seeking fair compensation for their suffering.

There can also be times when a device that was long thought to be safe winds up surprising everyone. And finding the right way to deal with the issue can be something of a challenge.

Such seems to be the case with some animal tissue aortic heart valves. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and some leading heart specialists have just issued a warning about the fact that such valves may start to malfunction due to the development of tiny blood clots around the flap.

The discovery has proven to be kind of a shock. The devices, which employ valves from pigs and cows, have been used for decades and are in thousands of patients around the world. As one cardiologist notes, the belief that tissue valves are less likely to be troubled by clots than mechanical valves has been "accepted dogma."

Doctors and the manufacturers say they are now working to try to understand what might be causing the problems. They note that in patients where problems have been detected, anticoagulants have helped. But they acknowledge that the drugs can also elevate the risk of dangerous internal bleeding in some patients.

The experts also say that they aren't sure whether the valve problem causes significant ill effects in patients. For now, it appears that this is an issue that will have to be closely watched.

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