Out of all the people who develop heart failure, almost 50 percent die within 5 years of getting diagnosed with it. But now, researchers have developed a new, implantable heart device which can change this.
A clinical trial has shown the C-Pulse to be effective in reversing heart failure, even in some patients with severe cases. It is a cuff that wraps around the aorta and pumps blood from the heart around the body. There is no cure for heart failure which occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood and oxygen around body to support other organs.
Dr. William Abraham of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center led the research team which noted that medications to help manage heart failure symptoms are not always effective. "The optimal drug therapies we have today often aren't enough to manage this disease for some patients," he says, "so we are always looking for new types of therapies."
This evoked the team to implant the C-Pulse device in 20 patients with either functional class III or ambulatory class IV heart failure, for their study. The device is an extra-aortic counterpulsation system and consists of a cuff that is placed around the patient’s aorta. The cuff is attached to a small balloon that inflates and deflates in sync with the patient's heartbeat. This pumps blood through the aorta and around the body.
According to the manufacturing company’s website, the device is designed to get more oxygen to the heart muscle, reduce the workload of the left ventricle in the heart, and increase blood flow from the heart.
A wire runs from the device through the abdomen to an external power pack called a "driver," which the patient wears. The driver can be battery powered or plugged in, and it can be disconnected temporarily to allow the patient to shower, for example, or carry out other short tasks where the pack may be inconvenient.
The C-Pulse can be implanted within 1 hour via a mini-thoracotomy (a small incision through the ribs) and a mini-sternotomy (a small incision through the sternum) or via a complete sternotomy.
"Drug and device therapies that are currently available for heart failure improve that same quality of life score by only five or 10 points," Dr. Abraham explains. "So, this is truly a significant improvement."
The study findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) Heart Failure.
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