COLUMBUS, OH — On average, an America is diagnosed wit heart failure every minute of everyday. Right now more than five million people have heart failure, and by 20-30 that number will jump to eight million. For about half of those patients, there are no effective treatments, but that soon may change. For the first time in the U.S., a new device is being tested in patients trials. It’s designed to relieve pressure on the heart and offer millions new hope. ABC 10’s Sarah Mac reports.
A six minute walk test in the halls of the hospital tells doctors a lot about the condition of Janet Wickham’s heart.
Janet lost her mother and great-grandmother to diastolic heart failure – and assumed that by the time she was at risk, there would be new treatment options. Unfortunately, there aren’t.
Janet Wickham, who has diastolic heart failure, says, “I’m not where I’d like to be and times fly by and I keep saying I’m 69, you know, what’s happening with all this? You know, what’s out there? What’s new? But there hasn’t been anything.”
Diastolic heart failure means Janet’s heart pumps fine, but doesn’t relax enough to fill up completely between beats, which causes blood to back up and build pressure in her lungs.
OSU’s Wexner Medical Center’s Dr. Rami Kahwash says, “This is when the patient starts having shortness of breath. Other than diuretics, we don’t have any way of dealing with the patient’s symptoms.”
But a new approach could change that.
At the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Janet became the first patient enrolled in the U.S. to possibly test this new, dime-sized implant. During a heart catheterization, doctor’s punch a small hole in the wall of a patient’s heart and use this inter-atrial shunt to keep it open, so excess blood can drain from one side to the other.
Dr. Kahwash says, “It’s just like when you have a traffic jam, and instead of backing up all the way back to the lung, you create kind of a detour that kind of takes you around the lung.”
That’s expected to relieve pressure and allow the heart to work better. During this first-ever randomized trial, enrolled patients will undergo the cath procedure. Half will get the device, the other half won’t. Patients and their doctors aren’t told until the trial is complete who got it. Janet doesn’t know if she did – but is happy doctors are testing new optoins her family never had.
Janet says, “I’m wanting to feel better. And what will be will be, but if there’s a chance of something I want to try it.”
To find out if you or someone you know might qualify for the study click here.
Information and photo provided by OSU’s Wexner Medical Center.