New device could cut heart failure levels

A new device has proved effective in clinical trials at controlling heart failure.

The C-Pulse is a cuff that wraps around the aorta and syncs with the patient’s heartbeat. It rapidly inflates and deflates a small balloon to help squeeze blood through the aorta to circulate throughout the body. 

Growing concern

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood and oxygen around the body to support other organs.

Around 750,000 people are living with heart failure in the UK and the Heart Research Institute UK estimates there are more than 27,000 new cases of heart failure each year.

Incidence of heart failure is 60% higher in men than women.

Dr William Abraham of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, which led the study, said that, in the US, heart failure is one of the fastest growing forms of heart disease. It is also one of the most common reasons people are hospitalised.

Most optimal drug therapies often are not enough to manage heart disease for some patients, he said

Initial success

Dr Abraham and other cardiovascular researchers examined C-Pulse at seven US centres. It is powered through a wire that exits the abdomen and connects to an external driver worn by the patient. The driver can be plugged in or battery-powered.

In the pilot study, 20 patients were implanted with the device. They were evaluated at six months and one year.

At both times, 16 of the patients showed significant improvements.

Additionally, patients were able to walk an average 100 feet farther during tests and average quality of life scores improved nearly 30 points.“At the one year mark, three of the patients had mild or no symptoms of heart failure,” said Dr Abraham.

Adverse effects

The most common adverse effect during the trial was infection of the exit site, experienced by eight out of 20 participants.

Researchers noted that stricter guidelines for exit site management, wound care and antibiotic therapy could reduce that risk in future studies.

There were no hospitalisations among the participants for stroke, thrombosis, sepsis or bleeding, which often occurs in patients using left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). The researchers said this is due to the device remaining outside the bloodstream.

Another important difference is the C-Pulse device can be temporarily turned off and disconnected, allowing patients some conveniences that an LVAD doesn’t permit.

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