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New heart pump breakthrough at Renown Regional Medical Center



Irenown_brochure_091006_b-52t’s something that everyone can identify with. It’s the soothing “thump, thump” that calms an infant being held in a mother’s arms. It’s felt in the wrists and neck. And it’s nearly always seen between “I” and “NY.” The beating heart is known for its greatness. It provides the motive force to move blood through the body. But what happens when it stops?

Renown Health’s Institute for Heart & Vascular Health , the region’s leader in heart care for more than 30 years, announced it was the first in northern Nevada to insert a heart pump directly into a patient’s heart to save and recover heart muscle during a life-saving procedure for a heart attack.

The device, known as the Impella 2.5, is the world’s smallest heart pump. Nearly 100th the size of the heart, it is so small that rather than sitting outside the body as traditional heart pumps do, it is inserted directly into the heart through an artery in the leg.

Doctors say the concept behind the tiny pump is to be able to get to the heart and assist with the pumping of blood without having to open the chest. After it is inserted, the device is designed to do the work of the heart while medical experts perform a high risk angioplasty with reduced risk.

“The key to heart recovery is maintaining blood flow by keeping the heart pumping, particularly during those crucial minutes or hours after a heart attack,” said Devang Desai, MD, interventional cardiologist with Sierra Nevada Cardiology Associates and medical director for the Chest Pain Center at Renown Regional. “When someone breaks their arm or leg, it is usually set and immobilized in a cast so it can rest and recover . Similarly, when the heart muscle is damaged, it needs to rest and recover, so an auxiliary pump is used to augment blood flow throughout the body.”

For years, doctors have typically only had two options to treat blocked arteries and restore blood flow to the heart: open heart surgery and angioplasty. These procedures can be considerably risky for elderly patients and those who have developed a significant amount of heart dysfunction.

In certain cases, many heart surgeons opt to forgo bypass surgery because of the risk to the patient, specifically in patients who may not be able to withstand the procedure.

“We are always looking for ways to advance cardiovascular care for heart patients in northern Nevada,” Desai said. “We can now treat patients who were once ineligible for more invasive procedures due to excessive risk. Ultimately, by using this device, we will be able to provide life saving services for even the sickest patients.”

Sparks resident Edward Gilbert, 64, is one such individual. Under Dr. Desai’s skill and expertise, he was the first person in northern Nevada to receive treatment with the Impella 2.5, which, according to his doctors, saved his life.

Mr. Gilbert had a history of coronary artery disease that was being controlled with medication. During the week of Oct. 11, he was having chest pains even at rest and blood tests revealed he was having a heart attack. The medicines were no longer working and Mr. Gilbert’s options were limited, said Desai. He was admitted to the hospital and physicians were forced to weigh the risks and benefits of treatment options. The heart surgeons deemed it too risky to do an open heart surgery to bypass the blocked heart arteries.

Fortunately for Mr. Gilbert, Renown recently invested in the new technology. Dr. Desai and his team were able to successfully perform high risk coronary stenting and Mr. Gilbert was on his feet walking in four hours after the procedure without chest pain!

“As a patient, you don’t really see all the underlining factors that go into the decisions doctors make for treatment,” Gilbert said. “I’m so thankful to Renown and Dr. Desai, for being on the forefront of technology. If they didn’t have that little pump, I don’t know where I’d be today.”

About Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health
When it comes to choosing the right hospital for heart and vascular health, experience counts. More cardiovascular procedures are performed at Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health than anywhere else in northern Nevada. It’s no wonder that the Institute has more than 30 years of recognition as the region’s leader of heart and vascular care.

Renown is committed to providing a level of skill, expertise and technology normally found in much larger communities so that patients do not have to leave the community to receive the high level of care they expect and deserve.

The organization is also committed to bringing in high caliber physicians and the necessary tools and equipment to meet the needs of the region’s growing population. Renown’s cardiac physicians have access to sophisticated diagnostic and surgical equipment such as the da Vinci® S HD™ Robotic Surgical System, 64-slice CT scanner, nuclear medicine, MRI and cardiac catheterization so patients can be diagnosed and treated quickly.

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