YOUR HEALTH: Diastolic heart failure; trial puts novel device to the test

Hamilton had diastolic heart failure, or DHF. The pumping chamber of his heart was stiff.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 7:15 AM CDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Diastolic heart failure happens when the left ventricle, or the pumping chamber of a person’s heart becomes stiff, and blood can’t flow from the heart into the lungs. Now, for the first time, doctors are testing a tiny device designed to relieve the pressure and give patients back their lives.

Yardwork makes Cecil Hamilton happy because until very recently, it was impossible - his legs would hurt and he was constantly out of breath.

Hamilton had diastolic heart failure, or DHF. The pumping chamber of his heart was stiff.

“You can imagine it as the heart becomes more of a copper pipe than a water balloon, interventional cardiologist at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, Scott Lilly, MD says.

Hamilton was hospitalized regularly for years, but a visit from the oldest of his eight grandchildren strengthened his resolve to get healthy.

“She was scared to death. I said, ÔThen, I gotta do something. I don’t know what, but something. I don’t want to see that look in my granddaughter’s eyes again,” Hamilton expresses.

That something was a small device. Hamilton’s doctors asked him to take part in a randomized trial of a new device. In some patients, doctors threaded a catheter through the leg into the heart to create a small path between the upper chambers. Then doctors implanted the dime-sized device called an inter-atrial shunt.

Dr. Lilly explains, “That valve allows the blood to go from the left side to the right side. Presumptively reduces the amount of congestion in the lungs.”

While Hamilton didn’t know for sure that he received the device, he could breathe better as soon as he woke up.

“Three, four days afterwards, I knew that I had it because I could tell a difference,” Hamilton exclaims.

He’s now back to driving a bus for Ohio State’s sports teams, bowling with his grandchildren, and getting his yard ready for another spring season.

Cecil Hamilton’s doctors have since confirmed that he did receive the interatrial shunt device, which is designed to stay in place in a patient’s heart permanently. A phase three clinical trial is underway to confirm earlier findings that showed patients improved with the device, and then the FDA will consider it for approval.

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