New nerve stimulation helps the heart

Heart failure is the fastest growing cardiovascular disorder in the United States, affecting more than six million people.

It occurs when a person's heart is too weak to pump and circulate blood in the body.

Now, a new device that gets on your nerves could help save those with heart failure.

Laquita Fossitt is taking a stroll down memory lane, but for years, taking an actual walk was a tough task.

Laquita says, "I just feel like, you know, I’m out of breath, I’m so tired, I’m weak."

At 35, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Two decades later, she was told she needed a transplant.

Laquita says "some days I didn't even want to get up."

Thanks to a new nerve stimulation device for the heart, Laquita has a new option.

Doctor Kishore Ranadive, a cardiologist at Orlando Heart Specialists, says, "I think it's a very promising therapy."

Dr. Ranadive says the cardio-fit device helps the nervous system come into balance, which is needed to regulate the heart.

He adds, "This device is to kind of optimize that system by stimulating the nerve in the neck."

The device is implanted in the chest and consists of a sensor lead that monitors changes in the heart and a stimulation lead that is attached to the vagus nerve.

Dr. Ranadive says, “we slowly increase the current, uh, based on the response to the heart rate."

This helps patients improve their symptoms. Five months post-surgery, Laquita is up doing things she could not do before.

Patients take anywhere from six-to-twelve weeks to respond to treatment.

Cardio-fit is already approved in Europe. In the US, a multi-center clinical trial is currently recruiting patients.

REPORT: MB #3747

BACKGROUND: Congestive heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart can't pump out enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. It's often a long-term condition but symptoms could come on suddenly. It may affect only the right side or only the left side of the heart. Blood may back up in other areas of the body and fluid may build up in the lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, arms, and legs. Heart failure affects more than 6 million people in the United States and is the fastest growing cardiovascular disorder. (Source: National Institutes of Health)

CAUSES: Heart failure can be caused by a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Another cause is high blood pressure that is not well controlled. This can lead to stiffness and muscle weakening. Coronary artery disease can also be a cause. When plaque builds up in the arteries, less blood can reach the heart, causing it to work harder. Heart attacks can essentially kill parts of the heart muscle which were starved of oxygen, making the heart work more to compensate for the lost muscle. Even lung disease can be a cause: if the lung's ability to provide enough oxygen to the body is impaired, the heart has to compensate by pumping more blood.
(Source: American Heart Association/

NEW TECHNOLOGY: The CardioFit nerve stimulator acts almost like an implantable pacemaker. It's placed under the skin of the chest and consists of a stimulator, a sensor lead, and a stimulation lead. The sensor lead monitors changes in the heart and a stimulation lead is attached to the vagus nerve, which can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system when stimulated. The parasympathetic nervous system has been shown to be able to reduce heart rate, which in turn reduces the workload on the heart. Current to the nerve is increased based on the response of the heart rate. The CardioFit can be programmed on and off with external wireless communication. It can take about 6 to 12 weeks to respond to the treatment. Vagus nerve stimulation has also been proven to be effective in treating epilepsy and depression. There's one vagus nerve on each side of the body, which runs from the brainstem through the neck then to the chest and abdomen. (Source: Dr. Kishore Ranadive)


Erich A. Sandoval
Lazar Partners Ltd.

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