Tiny Technology Brings Hope to Heart Patients

(May 7, 2012) - Sparks Regional Medical Center, the River Valley region’s only accredited Chest Pain Center, has added a new technology to its portfolio of treatment options for critically ill heart patients.

On April 6, cardiologists at Sparks successfully completed this area’s first procedure with the Abiomed Impella 2.5 heart pump, also known as the World’s Smallest Heart Pump. Sparks Regional Medical Center is the only hospital in the area equipped with this tiny technology.

The minimally invasive device is designed to pull blood from the heart’s left ventricle and pump the blood to the rest of the body through the ascending aorta. In doing so, it temporarily relieves the heart’s pumping function by providing support and allowing physicians the time needed to perform life-saving interventions.

The first patient to benefit from this technology was a 75-year old man who suffered from several conditions, including heart failure. Doctors had previously denied him corrective heart surgery because of the high level of risk involved. But Sparks interventional cardiologist Nasser Adjei, MD, FACC, FSCAI, was able to completely restore two blockages near the man’s heart using the Impella pump. “This is very beneficial for high-risk patients with heart failure” said Dr. Adjei. “It was actually easier than a balloon catheter.”

The procedure took less than one hour to complete, and the patient went home the next morning, excited to be able to spend precious time with his family. The Impella 2.5 is inserted through the femoral artery into the heart, a procedure that lasts just a few minutes. Patients do not require open heart surgery or general anesthesia.

“Our team can now perform cutting-edge, life-saving cardiovascular procedures in a matter of minutes,” said Sparks Health System CEO Melody Trimble. “This tiny heart pump offers our physicians a minimally invasive approach in cardiac treatment for many patients who have been told surgery is no longer an option for them because their hearts are too weak.”

Sparks Regional Medical Center is the only hospital in the area to achieve accreditation as a Chest Pain Center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers, an international organization that focuses on transforming cardiovascular care. It means processes are in place at Sparks to treat patients more quickly during the critical window of time when the integrity of the heart muscle can be preserved, and also to reduce the time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis and treatment.