Cutting-edge procedure by mends Mick Jagger’s ‘heart of stone’

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones performs at the Esprit arena during the Rolling Stones tour "Stones - No Filter" in Duesseldorf, western Germany. Mick Jagger is "on the mend" after a reportedly successful heart valve procedure in New York. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2019

Cutting-edge procedure by mends Mick Jagger’s ‘heart of stone’

  • Known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, the method has gradually replaced open-heart surgery
  • Since 2009, 400,000 patients in 65 countries have undergone the procedure

PARIS: When the Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger underwent heart valve replacement surgery in New York recently, according to media reports the doctor in France who invented the technique took a modest bow.
“I am not especially a fan of the Rolling Stones but I am pleased with the outcome,” Professor Alain Cribier told AFP. “What is moving is to think about all the patients who have benefited from the procedure.”
“I’m feeling much better now and on the mend,” Jagger, 75, wrote on Twitter.
Weighing his words carefully, the soft-spoken cardiologist who pioneered the technique in 2002 doesn’t have the allure of a rock star.
But in his field, many colleagues see him that way.
Known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, his method has gradually replaced open-heart surgery for repairing the valve that allows the delivery of blood through the aorta.
The most common — and serious — of valve diseases, age-related aortic stenosis occurs when the valve narrows and hardens with calcium deposits.
Valve replacement has historically been done by opening the chest surgically, stopping the heart, and placing the patient on a heart and lung blood machine — all, of course, under general anaesthesia.
More than 200,000 such procedures are performed every year worldwide, according to NewHeartValve, in Britain.
Cribier’s technique, done under local anaesthesia, is minimally invasive by comparison and has far shorter recovery times.
A surgeon or cardiologist accesses the femoral artery with an incision near the groin to insert a catheter fitted with a replacement valve inside a collapsed stent, and a balloon for inflating it.
The new heart valve, once expanded, pushes the old one out of the way and takes over the job of regulating blood flow.
“It has revolutionized patient care in this area,” Montpellier-based cardiologist Stephane Cade told AFP.
Since first performing the surgery in 2002, Cribier had trained dozens of doctors around the world. At first, TAVR was reserved for patients too weak or old to undergo open-heart surgery.
But over the last decade, its use has been expanded to those for whom the traditional approach poses an “intermediate risk.”
Since 2009, 400,000 patients in 65 countries have undergone the procedure, Cribier said.
Those numbers could now expand rapidly.
A study based on clinical trials published in The New England Journal of Medicine last month concluded that TAVR is safer and yields better results for “low-risk patients” as well.
“I must say reading the the study brought tears to my eyes,” said Cribier.
The idea first came to him in the 1980s.
“At the time, we let patients over 75 simply die — we didn’t operate,” he recalled.
After a first attempt to develop a new technique failed, finding one that worked become “an obsession,” he said.
When he finally succeeded, the approach was greeted with skepticism.
“Heart surgeons were completely opposed. ‘Who is this nutcase that’s trying to undercut our work?’,” they asked.
Today, TAVR is performed mostly by cardiologists, not surgeons. But that too could soon change.
“Surgeons are now confronted with the evidence,” Cribier said. “They will start adopting it now.”
One unknown is the lifespan of the new valves, which are made from bovine tissue.
“It has only been in use for a relatively short period — we just don’t know yet,” commented Herve Douard, a cardiologist in Bordeaux.


Solid gold toilet stolen from English stately home

Updated 14 September 2019

Solid gold toilet stolen from English stately home

  • Toilet was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and estimated to be worth around £1 million
  • A 66-year-old man was arrested following the burglary at Blenheim Palace

LONDON: A gang of thieves on Saturday stole an 18-carat gold toilet from Britain’s Blenheim Palace, police said, causing flooding that damaged the world-famous stately home.
The fully-functioning toilet, dubbed “America,” was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and estimated to be worth around £1 million.
A 66-year-old man was arrested following the burglary, which took place before dawn at the 18th-century estate near Oxford, southern England.
The toilet was one of the star attractions in an exhibition of Cattelan’s works that opened on Thursday at the palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visitors were able to book time slots to use it — but only for three minutes each, to limit the queues.
More than 100,000 people used the loo during the year it was on display at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
“The offenders broke into the palace overnight and left the scene at about 4.50am (0350 GMT). No-one was injured during the burglary,” police said in a statement.
Detective Inspector Jess Milne of Thames Valley Police said she believed “a group of offenders used at least two vehicles” — and left a mess behind them.
“The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace,” she said.
“Due to the toilet being plumbed into the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding.”
Blenheim Palace said it was “saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt.”
It closed on Saturday but said it would reopen on Sunday.

The palace is home to the 12th duke of Marlborough and his family, and was also the birthplace of British wartime leader Winston Churchill.
The duke’s brother, Edward Spencer-Churchill, who founded the Blenheim Art Foundation, said last month he was relaxed about security around the gold toilet.
“It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick,” he told The Times newspaper.
“Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”
He added: “Despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth I have never had a shit on a golden toilet, so I look forward to it.”
Cattelan, who is known for his provocative art, has previously described the golden toilet as “one-percent art for the 99 percent.”
The Guggenheim had offered the loo on loan to US President Donald Trump, but he declined.
The Italian artist’s exhibition at Blenheim runs until October 27 and includes a taxidermied horse hoisted onto the ceiling of an ornate reception room.
Blenheim has previously hosted exhibitions of work by Ai WeiWei, Yves Klein, Jenny Holzer, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Lawrence Weiner.
Police said they were looking at CCTV footage to help them in the search for the gold toilet, adding that nothing else was believed to have been stolen.