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Sharp Health News

New device may help heart failure

July 19, 2016

New device may help heart failure

Nearly 5.8 million Americans live with heart failure, causing many individuals to experience symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and swelling in the legs and ankles. Heart failure is a result of a weak heart that cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It can be caused by a heart attack or other conditions that have damaged the heart over time such as high blood pressure, diabetes and alcohol or substance abuse.

Treatment for heart failure typically involves a combination of medications that need to be taken daily. In some cases, surgery — such as coronary bypass and heart valve repair or replacement — is recommended. Additionally, cardiac resynchronization device therapy — a device that sends small, electrical impulses to the lower chambers of the heart — is available as a treatment option; however, roughly 2 out of 3 people with heart failure do not qualify for cardiac resynchronization.

In response to this, the cardiology team at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center has spearheaded the Baroreflex Activation Therapy for Heart Failure program, a clinical trial for an implantable, investigational device known as Barostim neo.

“Unfortunately, heart failure is a chronic, progressive illness, but it can be treated with medications and surgical options that improve symptoms, reduce hospital visits and prolong life,” explains Dr. Mariusz Wysoczanski, a cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista.

The device is designed to activate special cells in the arteries of the neck called baroreceptors, which are natural sensors in the body that regulate blood flow.

“Barostim neo is an implantable device that sends signals to the brain, which then instruct the heart, blood vessels and kidneys to improve blood flow; this may lessen the severity of symptoms,” he says. “The procedure associated with placing this device is minimally invasive and allows individuals to resume their daily activities soon after the procedure is complete.”

The device works three ways to help prevent heart failure:  

  1. Barostim neo sends signals via a wire to special receptors in the carotid artery, called baroreceptors. 
  2. Baroreceptors send signals to the brain. 
  3. The brain sends signals to the heart, kidneys and blood vessels that may improve heart function and reduce heart failure symptoms.

“The Baroreflex Activation Therapy for Heart Failure is an exciting advancement for the cardiology team at Sharp Chula Vista,” says Dr. Gilanthony Ungab, director of cardiac electrophysiology at Sharp Chula Vista. “We’re committed to providing the highest level of care with the newest technologies for patients in our community and are the only hospital to offer this clinical trial in San Diego.”

For more information on the study, device and eligibility, please contact the Sharp Center for Research at 858-939-7179 or researchcenter@sharp.com. A clinical staff member trained on the study protocol will be able to provide assistance and answer any questions you may have.

For the media: To talk with a Sharp doctor about heart failure or the Baroreflex Activation Therapy clinical trial, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at erica.carlson@sharp.com or 858-499-3052.

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