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China Uses New Generation of Artificial Heart Component
Following the introduction of fourth-generation artificial cardiac valves by China's medical authorities in January, the first heart surgery was successfully carried out Friday on a 62-year-old patient in Guangzhou, the capital of south China's Guangdong Province.

The operation was carried out by Robert Tam, a heart surgeon from the Prince Charles Hospital in Australia, and Zeng Weisheng, a cardiovascular surgeon with the Guangzhou General Hospital of the People's Liberation Army Guangzhou Military Area Command.

Du Bo, the patient, a retired laborer from Lishui County in Foshan City in Guangdong Province, first experienced an abnormal heartbeat ten years ago.

"In recent years, when affected by the abnormal heartbeat, I had to stop what I was doing and remained still for about half an hour before being able to resume activity," Du said.

He was diagnosed with cardiac valve disease in March, which could provoke heart failure or even death.

China has over 2.37 million patients with rheumatic heart disease, of whom nearly 20 percent require cardiac valve replacement, however, to date, only five percent have received such operations, doctor Zeng Weisheng said.

Zeng attributed this to the high cost of the operation and to the post-operation life-long dependence on anticoagulative medicines.

The new generation of mechanical prosthetics employs new materials and techniques, requiring less anticoagulative medicines post-surgery, said Zeng, adding that the mechanism can last for 30 years.

Cardiac valves are important organs located between the left ventricle and the aorta which cause blood to flow in one direction and block refluence.

The fourth-generation of mechanical cardiac valves was invented in the United States in the 1990s and has cured over 120,000 patients worldwide.

(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2003)

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