Friday, September 3, 2010
HOUSTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A new method to treat heart failure is being tried with a device implanted to electrically stimulate parts of a patient's spinal cord, Texas doctors say.
A Pearland, Texas, man had the device and wire implanted Monday by surgeons at Houston's Methodist Hospital, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Doctors hope the procedure, commonly used to treat pain, will activate nerves they think will improve the heart's ability to pump effectively, lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of irregular heartbeats, and stop stress hormones from overreacting and causing cardiac damage.
"Despite the development of drugs that treat heart failure, patients continue to deteriorate," Dr. Guillermo Torre-Amione, a Methodist heart failure specialist, said. "This is a new concept that could increase therapeutic efficacy without adding new medications."
Hollis Bardwell, 61, had the pacemaker-like device implanted in the side of his lower back and an attached 35-inch wire threaded up his spine.
He said he hopes the therapy will give him greater mobility while he waits for a heart transplant.
Bardwell hasn't worked since November because an inherited heart condition makes breathing difficult.
He went on a heart transplant waiting list two months ago.
On Monday, doctors adjusted the electrical impulse level to Bardwell's satisfaction.
"It's really mild," Bardwell said. "The most I feel is a tingle like when your hand is going to sleep on you. When it's set low, I don't feel anything at all."
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