First-in-the-World Device Helps the Right Side of the Heart

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More than six million Americans have heart failure, meaning the heart can’t pump enough blood to support the rest of the organs in the body. For years, doctors have used LVADs – left ventricular assist devices – to help the patient get stronger. Now, doctors in the U.S. are the first in the world to use a device for the right side of the heart. 

When someone is in heart failure, doctors can use a small, mechanical device called an LVAD to help pump blood and give the heart a chance to rest and recover.

“Historically, we were focusing mostly on the left ventricle. But now, we're realizing that patients that have RV failure are not doing well,” said Dr. Yuriy Dudiy a cardiac surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center.

Dudiy and his colleagues were the first in the world to use a temporary device to support the right side of the heart. Surgeons implant the Impella RP Flex by going through the internal jugular vein with a catheter.

“Impella RP Flex is designed to be inserted percutaneously, which means just with the needle stick, and it goes into the heart and provides support to the right ventricle,” Dudiy explained.

The device can be used for up to 14 days before it’s removed, and it’s designed so the patient can be mobile.

“The benefit of going through the neck is that the patient can sit upright or can ambulate in the intensive care unit while recovering,” Dudiy said.

The Impella RP Flex can be used at the same time as an LVAD. The device can also provide support to patients who are waiting for a heart transplant. The first three patients to undergo the Impella RP Flex implant have been weaned from the device. Two have gone home and did not need heart transplant surgery.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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