New heart-assist device now available at WVU 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –  Doctors at West Virginia University are the first in the state to use a new device to help patients suffering heart attacks or congestive heart failure or undergoing angioplasty. The Impella left ventricular assist device is new technology that enables the heart to rest during difficult procedures and to heal and recover during episodes of congestive heart failure.

“It’s a novel therapy,” said Bradford E. Warden, M.D., who along with Wissam Gharib, M.D., performed the first procedure using the Impella. “It’s a new technology that makes angioplasty safer. And it also offers an additional therapy to people with congestive heart failure to help them through an acute episode.”

The first patient to receive the heart-assist treatment was a 71-year-old who had previously undergone bypass surgery and stent placements. The Impella was employed during his latest stent placement on Oct. 9, and the patient recovered quickly and went home within days of the procedure.

“It’s also a good therapy for people who are having a heart attack,” Dr. Gharib explained. “The Impella can take over when the heart is stunned after a heart attack, helping it along until the muscle and tissue begin to work normally again.” Gharib and Warden are cardiologists with the WVU Heart Institute.

“We are the first ones in West Virginia to offer it,” Warden said of the $25,000 device. “We trained about 10 people in all to be fully comfortable with it – everyone from nurses to cath lab technicians to physicians.”

The Impella works by redirecting blood from the heart, increasing and supporting the patient’s blood circulation.

 “We insert a catheter into the major artery of the leg,” Warden said. “The device’s pumping mechanism supports the heart during angioplasty or other times we are working on the heart during high-risk procedures.”

Cardiac assist devices are also useful in patients experiencing congestive heart failure because the device, often employed for only a few hours, can also stay in place for several days if necessary to improve blood flow.

WVU Heart Institute doctors perform between 1,300 and 1,500 angioplasties and stent placements annually. WVUH expects to use the Impella device a few times a month.

For information on the WVU Heart Institute’s interventional cardiology program see http://www.health.wvu.edu/services/heart-institute/cardiology-interventional.aspx.


For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
ab: 10-13-08

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