Remember that little motor of your body that never has a day off and keeps on beating at various paces in your chest? Of course you do. It’s that amazing part of you that tends to go haywire when you see your crush, have an important exam, ride a rollercoaster or when your kid rides a rollercoaster. It’s literally the organ that pumps blood into your veins and keeps you alive. Oh…and what a life your blessed heart helps you live. The problem with this little wonder is that it eventually gets tired or has its hiccups, some due to old age, some due to diseases or congenital disorders.
“It’s just like when you have a traffic jam. Instead of backing up all the way back to the lungs, we’re creating a detour that’s taking the blood around another route and relieving the pressure.”
(Dr Rami Kahwash, cardiologist and study investigator at The Ohio State University Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital for MedicalXpress)
The good news is that most medical problems are nowadays being given a solution, while cures or temporary yet efficient fixes are more and more accessible. For patients that suffer from diastolic heart failure, which occurs when the left ventricle (left lower chamber of the heart) is unable to properly relax and get filled up with blood, leading to a less than normal amount of blood being pumped to the body, an answer has finally been found. Normally, in order to counteract this condition, the heart increases pressure in the ventricle to adequately fill it, but over time, this generates other problems such as blood build-up in the left atrium and eventually the lungs. The symptoms that appear in this case range from shortness of breath or even difficulty breathing while inactive, to fluid retention due to the lower amount of blood that reaches the kidneys, dizziness, fatigue, an overall sensation of weakness and irregular heartbeats.
“The aim is to relieve the high pressure that builds up by making and keeping an opening in the wall between the left and right atrium so that the excess blood can move between the two chambers.”
As mentioned, a solution has been found and it is the size of a dime, with the shape of an intricate flower. Curious? The device in question is named InterAtrial Shunt Device and is undergoing clinical trial testing at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The aim is to relieve the high pressure that builds up by making and keeping an opening in the wall between the left and right atrium so that the excess blood can move between the two chambers. To keep this “communication line” open, surgeons implant the inter-atrial shunt in the space that has been made through catheterization – procedure which implies the insertion of a catheter through an artery or vein in the groin, neck or arm in order to reach the heart.
The InterAtrial Shunt Device is produced by Corvia Medical Inc., a Massachusetts based company which is funding a trial for their product and is looking for potential candidates. You can find out if this clinical study is right for you or a loved one that is suffering from diastolic heart failure on the following website: http://treatmyheartfailure.com/
Written by R.F.I
Prof Gerd Hasenfuß et al, A transcatheter intracardiac shunt device for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (REDUCE LAP-HF): a multicentre, open-label, single-arm, phase 1 trial, The Lancet vol.387, March 2016
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-doctors-hole-heart-wall-diastolic.html; http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)00704-2/fulltext?rss=yes; http://corviamedical.com/home/; http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/tc/diastolic-heart-failure-topic-overview; http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-failure/heart-failure-symptoms; http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cardiac-catheterization/home/ovc-20202754