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Starting September 2018, the doctors at Inspira Medical Centers Woodbury and Vineland have a new tool in their arsenal to help a damaged heart pump enough blood to support major organs, while also giving the heart time to recover, according to Ashfaque Unwala, MD, cardiac catheterization medical director, Inspira Woodbury.
The Impella Ventricular Support System draws blood out of the heart and pumps it into the aorta, partially or fully bypassing the left ventricle and providing increased blood flow to critical
organs in heart attack patients.
The device is used most often in patients with cardiogenic shock, which happens when a person’s heart suddenly stops pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can cause severe organ damage or even death.
“One of the things we have noticed over the last few years is the high percentage of patients who come in with cardiogenic shock,’’ said Andrew Zinn, MD, cardiac catheterization medical director, Inspira Medical Center Vineland. “In the past, we’ve been able to stabilize these patients, but we’ve had to rapidly transfer them to other institutions.
“In the long run, we’re going to see better patient outcomes and less need to transfer patients to other hospitals, which means we will be able to manage very sick patients closer to home,’’ Zinn added.
As Inspira primarily treats heart attack patients — not those scheduled for complex surgery — the Impella is used to stabilize patients’ hearts as they recover from a heart attack and/or cardiogenic shock.
“Far too often, these patients have been having a heart attack for several hours before coming to the hospital,’’ Unwala explained. “This enables us to support the patient while recovering from a heart attack.’’
Previously, doctors would use a balloon pump or other devices, but those generated less blood flow than what can be achieved with the Impella, Unwala said, adding that the Impella is also easier to manage.
“This helps to maintain the functions of the brain, kidneys and other organs,’’ he added. “This is a great device that will be helpful to a lot of our patients who come in with heart attacks.’’
The device is implanted non-surgically into the left side of a patient’s heart through a small incision in a major artery in the leg or through a small incision in an artery in the chest, Dr. Unwala explained. Inspira officials said the procedure will be widely available at both Inspira Woodbury and Vineland this fall, after all protocols are put in place and all staff are trained.
“From the nursing standpoint, we are seeing the evolution of improving care at our facilities with evidence-based practices, especially for cardiac care,’’ said Michele Zucconi, R.N., administrative director, critical care, Inspira Vineland. “This is just one example and it means our patients can get the best treatment locally and be close to their family and other support systems. This is in keeping with our philosophy of treating the patient as a whole.’’