New therapy at Wellstar MCG Health gives heart failure patients a better quality of life

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Written by Lisa Kaylor

In the United States, heart failure affects an estimated 6.9 million adults, a figure that is estimated to increase by 24% by 2030.  A heart failure diagnosis used to be a death sentence, but people can now live for many years if symptoms are managed properly.

The quality of those years, however, can be rather poor. People with heart failure often experience shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in lower extremities, weakness and the reduced ability to perform physical activity.

For these patients, current treatments aren’t enough. Treatment may keep their hearts pumping, but it won’t give them the energy they need to get back to living their lives.

Wellstar MCG Health is proud to offer a new treatment to help heart failure patients improve their quality of life. Barostim is an implantable device that stimulates baroreceptors – natural sensors located in the wall of the carotid artery – that tell the nervous system how to regulate heart, kidney and vascular function. It is the first FDA-approved heart failure device in the world to use neuromodulation to improve symptoms of patients who may not be receiving adequate symptom relief from medications alone.

“Patients we encounter are often limited by worsening symptoms of heart failure despite our ability to optimize their medications,” said Dr. Evan Hiner, a cardiologist at Wellstar MCG Health and assistant professor at Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia who specializes in advanced heart failure. “Wellstar MCG Health now offers a novel device therapy that can reduce the symptoms of heart failure and improve overall quality of life.”

Unlike pacemakers, Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs) or other heart failure therapies, Barostim is not implanted into the heart or vascular system. Those devices aid the heart in functioning properly, which is necessary for survival. But while Barostim is also implanted, it stimulates the nervous system to act in ways that reduce the heart’s workload. A lead wire attached to the carotid artery sends small electrical pulses to specialized pressure sensors in the neck. These sensors regulate heart, kidney and vascular function to restore balance to the nervous system.

The result is that heart failure patients who receive Barostim along with heart failure treatment are not only able to live longer, they have more energy to do the things they enjoy. In clinical trials, patients with Barostim have been able to walk farther and reported a greater quality of life than while using medications alone.

Wellstar MCG Health offers a wide range of cardiology programs, including a specialized Advanced Heart Failure Program that has been recognized with a Gold Plus Achievement Award by the American Heart Association. Our multidisciplinary teams include cardiologists, nurse practitioners, cardiothoracic surgeons, HF coordinators, pharmacists, dietitians, nurses, social workers and palliative care providers to ensure patients in all stages of heart failure receive the targeted care they need.