Now heart failure patients can potentially live healthier lives.
Learn about a new, less invasive heart failure treatment option from BioVentrix.
Heart failure (which is sometimes called congestive heart failure or CHF) occurs when the heart cannot supply enough blood to adequately meet the body’s demands. The heart may fail because of weakness in the heart muscle itself, or if the heart does not properly fill with blood right before pumping.
It’s important to remember that heart failure is not the same as a heart attack. However, the vast majority of heart failure patients have had a heart attack, which leaves behind a “scar” that prevents the heart muscle from pumping normally. Doctors call this condition “ischemic cardiomyopathy”.
Heart failure and CHF treatment options.
Though there is no cure for heart failure, there are many familiar treatment options including medication, rhythm management devices (e.g. pacemakers), ventricular assist devices (VAD) and heart transplants. Each of these therapies has a role in treating heart failure, but none correct the underlying problem of most heart failure cases: a left ventricle whose size, shape and function are dangerously compromised.
This is the reason why BioVentrix developed the Revivent™ Myocardial Anchoring System for use in an innovative, new procedure called Less Invasive Ventricular Enhancement™ (LIVE™), which is giving heart failure patients renewed hope for healthier, more enjoyable lives.
The Revivent™ Myocardial Anchoring System.
To understand the significance of the new Revivent System, it helps to understand what really happens to the heart muscle during heart failure. In fact, a portion of the heart muscle actually dies, causing it to be replaced with scar, which does not contract; the scar and even the remaining normal muscle enlarge into an unnatural size and shape. This leads to a distended left ventricle (LV) that can’t pump enough blood with enough pressure to distribute it properly throughout the body.
Without an adequate blood supply, vital organs and other body parts are unable to function normally. This is very risky for heart failure patients. The ideal solution is to restore the heart’s size, volume and resulting pumping action as close to normal as possible. The only treatment option, short of major, open-heart surgery that can do this effectively is the BioVentrix Revivent Myocardial Anchoring System for Less Invasive Ventricular Enhancement (LIVE).
Other therapies for treating heart failure.
Heart failure medications.
Cardiologists treat heart failure with many different medications. Most of these are useful regardless of the cause of HF, and all HF patients should be on optimal dosages of these standard therapies. Each performs a special function to help patients feel better. Depending on symptoms, patients might take one or more of the following drugs:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Beta blockers
- Aldosterone antagonists
A consistent heart rhythm is important for maintaining proper blood flow to the brain, organs and all parts of the body. Rhythm management is how doctors make sure the heart keeps a regular beating pattern and does not miss any beats.
Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) takes two forms; one is to shock the heart back into a regular rhythm if it becomes erratic, (a high risk in patients with HF), and the other is to try to synchronize the two ventricles if they do not beat simultaneously. Both require implantation of a device into the body with leads extending through the vessels and into the heart. In the first instance, electricity is delivered to the heart to reorganize the rhythm back to regularity, and in the latter, a pacer lead is placed into both ventricles, and an attempt made to adjust the timing of contraction in each chamber to become more coordinated. The two forms can be used in combination, and placement of these devices works in over half the cases. Doctors may also use a non-surgical procedure known as ablation, which uses radiofrequency (RF) waves to eliminate the source of the irregular rhythm.
Ventricular Assist Device (VAD).
A VAD is a mechanical pump that is surgically placed in the heart failure patient’s chest to help distribute blood throughout the body. All current devices require a “drive line” placed outside the body that extends through the skin and to the VAD. The patient has to be continuously connected to a power source, although battery packs do allow temporary freedom to move about. The procedure may take 4 to 8 hours and require a 2 to 4 week hospital stay to recover. A VAD is considered invasive because doctors must cut the chest open to implant the device. Also, there is a higher risk for infection with VADs than with other less invasive treatment options because of the connection between the drive line and the VAD. Even the best devices ultimately require replacement, though some have lasted over a year. In general, while VADs have extended many lives, it is a one-way street; once a machine is installed, the patient remains attached for life unless a transplant is possible.
A heart transplant involves surgically replacing a failing heart with a healthier heart donated from a person who recently passed away. The most common reason for a receiving heart transplant is that one or both ventricles are not functioning well enough to help a failing heart pump properly. Heart transplantation is a very complicated procedure that carries many risks, including long wait times for a donor and the body’s possible rejection of the new heart. Transplant patients can expect a lifetime of heavy medications and close monitoring by a physician. The primary limitation, however, comes down to supply and demand. Throughout the world, far more patients need a heart transplant than there are heart donors. As a result, many patients die waiting for a new heart.
Know these heart failure signs and symptoms.
Recognizing a failing heart can help you and others tell if you’re in danger and whether to notify your doctor. A good way to spot the signs of heart failure is to remember the acronym FACES:
F = Fatigue (feeling really tired and run down).
A = Activity limitation (unable to comfortably perform simple, everyday activities such as walking, gardening or climbing steps).
C = Chest congestion or cough.
E = Edema or swelling (especially in the legs and ankles).
S = Shortness of breath (including the anxious feeling that you can’t get enough air).
The Revivent™ Myocardial Anchoring System is now commercially available in the European Union following CE marking in December 2012. Clinical data collection is ongoing via a post market registry in Europe.