NuPulse iVAS Gives Terry’s Heart A Rest


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — When someone has advanced heart failure, his or her heart is not functioning properly and can’t circulate enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Scientists in Chicago are testing a first-of-a-kind pump to help the heart; one that doesn’t require a large incision or a lengthy hospital stay.

“I’d love to get back fishing. It’s my way of relaxing. It just totally transforms you,” said Terry Fiebelkorn.

Transformation is nothing new for 65-year-old Terry Fiebelkorn and his wife Sandy. Right now, the seven-pound box attached to him is helping reboot his system. Ten years ago, Terry survived a heart transplant, but his arteries hardened. Last year, his transplanted heart started to fail.

“It creates kind of a shell, and it won’t expand like it’s supposed to,” Terry explained to Ivanhoe.

Doctor Valluvan Jeevanandam and his team developed the cutting-edge mechanical assist device for patients like Terry, with advanced heart failure. It’s called the NuPulse Intravascular Ventricular Assist System or iVAS.

“It is a balloon that rests in the descending aorta, and it inflates when the heart relaxes, and it deflates when the heart pumps,” Valluvan Jeevanandam, MD, Chief of Cardiac Thoracic Surgery at University of Chicago explained. (Read Full Interview)

While the heart is relaxed, the pump keeps working, and adds a second “pulse,” improving circulation, while giving the heart a rest. Unlike an LVAD or other assist device, the NuPulse does not require a large incision through bones in the chest.

Dr. Jeevanandam continued, “It’s basically an operation just on the skin. It’s very similar to putting in a pacemaker, for instance.”

Terry’s NuPulse pump can be turned on and off. The batteries and software are inside the external drive. For now, he’s gotten used to the pulsing sound of the machine helping his damaged heart.

Although the NuPulse iVAS was designed for long-term support, it is currently being tested in a clinical trial as a “bridge” to transplant for about thirty days. Doctors say it has been safely used for up to six and a half months. Eventually, researchers say it may be used to support and rest a heart for years until that organ is able to recover.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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REPORT:               MB #4361

BACKGROUND: The term heart failure is used to describe a heart that isn’t pumping as well as it should be. Congestive heart failure is one type of heart failure that requires timely medical attention, though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The body depends on the heart pumping to deliver enough oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the cells of the body. With heart failure, the weakened heart cannot supply the cells with enough blood which results in fatigue and shortness of breath, and occasionally some people experience coughing. Everyday activities such as walking, carrying groceries, or climbing stairs can become increasingly difficult. Heart failure is a serious condition and usually there is no cure; however, many people with heart failure can lead a full and enjoyable life when the condition is managed with medications and healthy lifestyle changes.


BYPASS SURGERY: In some cases, the coronary arteries become lined and blocked with plaque and this is what causes heart failure. Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery involves the use of a blood vessel graft to bypass the blocked arteries and restore normal blood flow to the heart muscle. The graft goes around the clogged artery or arteries and forms new pathways for the blood to flow to the heart. The blood vessel grafts usually come from the patients’ own arteries and veins in the chest, arm, or leg. Your doctor can determine if your heart failure is caused by coronary artery disease and if this kind of surgery is the right choice for you. Patients with heart failure have an increased surgical risk during CABG surgery, but new strategies before, during, and after the surgery have decreased the risks and improved outcomes.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: The NuPulse Intravascular Ventricular Assist System or iVAS is a cutting-edge mechanical assist device for patients with advanced heart failure. It is a balloon that rests on the descending aorta and inflates when the heart relaxes then deflates when the heart pumps. The pump keeps working when the heart is relaxed, and adds a second pulse to improve circulation while giving the heart a rest. This device does not require a large incision through bones in the chest. The pump can be turned on and off, and the batteries and software are accessible inside the external drive. The NuPulse iVAS was designed for long-term support, but is currently in a clinical trial as a bridge to transplant for about 30 days. Doctors say it’s been safely used for up to just over 6 months.

(Source: Valluvan Jeevanandam, MD)


John Easton

Valluvan Jeevanandam

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

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