Smallest Heart Pump Gets Even Better!


HACKENSACK, N.J. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Here’s a sobering statistic to think about this heart month– every 40 seconds in the United States, someone has a heart attack. One of the most serious complications is a condition called cardiogenic shock where the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.  Now, the world’s tiniest heart pump with Smart Assist is helping doctors save and strengthen a patient’s own heart.

For 38 years, Ron Rovito has been a fixture in New York high school football.

But the physical activity wasn’t enough to prevent heart disease. Ron had his first heart attack in July of 2019. Ron says a few months into his recovery, he began skipping his medication until he had a second heart attack one year ago.

“They actually gave me a 20 percent chance to make it through the night,” Rovito recalled.

Dr. Mark Anderson was one of the first surgeons in the United States to implant a newly revised heart pump.  It’s called the Impella 5.5 with Smart Assist. It’s designed to help patients whose own hearts are too weak to pump blood. Surgeons insert a catheter into a small incision in a patient’s chest and implant the pump into the left ventricle of the heart. The Impella 5.5 also has technology embedded in it that lets doctors use their phones or computer to measure pressure within the heart.

“Our focus is to try to get patients’ hearts to recover, take the device out, and then they go on with their native heart,” explained Mark Anderson, MD, interim chief of cardiac surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center and professor of surgery at Hackensack-Meridian School of Medicine.

(Read Full Interview)

Doctors implanted the Impella 5.5 into Ron’s left ventricle. When he was released a month later, Ron worked hard to improve his health, dropping almost 100 pounds.

“I mean I would sit down with a whole pizza pie before, and eat it! And now, I can barely eat two slices, but … I love pizza,” shared Rovito.

He says it’s a small price to pay to stay healthy for the ones he loves.

Doctor Anderson says the Impella 5.5 also allows patients to get up and walk around after the device is implanted so that speeds the recovery process. The pump is designed to work within a patient’s body for up to 14 days before it is removed.

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

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REPORT:       MB #4852

BACKGROUND: Cardiogenic shock is a condition where the heart suddenly stops pumping enough oxygen-rich blood to your body. This condition is considered an emergency that is usually brought on by a heart attack. The heart attack damages the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, where the body then can’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. In rare cases of cardiogenic shock, it is the bottom right chamber of the heart that is damaged. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs, where it gets oxygen and then goes to the rest of the body. Other conditions that can make the heart weak include: inflammation of the heart muscle; an infection of the heart’s inner lining and valves; an abnormal heart rhythm; too much fluid or blood around the heart; and a blocked artery in the lung, usually by a blood clot.


SYMPTOMS AND PREVENTION: Because cardiogenic shock usually occurs in people who are having a heart attack, it’s important to know some signs and symptoms to watch for: rapid breathing or severe shortness of breath; sudden, rapid heartbeat; loss of consciousness; weak pulse or low blood pressure; sweating; pale skin; cold hands or feet; and urinating less frequently. If not treated immediately, there can be damage to your liver, kidneys or other organs from lack of oxygen, which can be permanent. The best way to prevent cardiogenic shock is to make some lifestyle changes such as: not smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke; maintaining a healthy weight; eating less cholesterol and saturated fats; limiting added sugars and alcohol; and exercising regularly.


NEW HEART PUMP DEVICE: Hackensack University Medical Center was selected for the initial rollout of the newly FDA-approved Impella 5.5 heart pump device. Currently, 39 patients have received the new device, and it recently received FDA pre-market approval for the treatment of cardiogenic shock. The Impella 5.5 can be used for up to 14 days to support the heart’s recovery. It is inserted into the left ventricle of the heart through either the axillary artery or directly into the aorta. This device provides surgeons with a minimally invasive solution to maintain blood flow while allowing the heart to recover. It also effectively pumps blood at a peak flow of greater than 6 liters/minute to maintain vital organ blood supply while reducing the work and oxygen demands placed on the heart with its fully unloaded design. Results of the study in the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs Journal showed 83.6% of patients survived to explants, with 76.1% of these patients recovering heart function.





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Mark Anderson, MD, Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery

Read the entire Q&A