A UK heart surgeon has pioneered a new way to repair damaged hearts after being inspired by artist Leonardo da Vinci’s medical drawings.

The intricate diagrams of the heart were made by Leonardo 500 years ago.

Mr Francis Wells from Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, says Leonardo’s observations of the way the heart valves open and close was revelatory.

Mr Wells has used this understanding to modify current repair operations, and has successfully treated 80 patients.

The drawings allowed him to work out how to restore normal opening and closing function of the mitral valve, one of the four valves in the heart.

Until now, surgeons have repaired a floppy valve by narrowing its diameter. However, this can restrict the blood flow further when the individual is exercising and working their heart to the maximum.

Mr Wells said: “It’s a complete rethink of the way we do the mitral valve operation.

“What Leonardo was saying about the shape of the valve is important. It means that we can repair this valve in a better way.”

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