New treatment for heart failure sufferers

TPCH cardiologist with patient

TPCH Cardiologist, Dr Scott McKenzie with patient Rosemary Edwards, who underwent a procedure late last year to have the new heart device implanted as part of a trial for heart failure patients. TPCH is one of three sites around Australia to trial the device.

An innovative device being trialled at The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH) may provide a treatment option for heart failure sufferers for the first time in Queensland.

The device, known as the InterAtrial Shunt Device (IASD), is a permanent implant, which is under evaluation for a common type of heart failure known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction or as diastolic heart failure, a condition where the heart becomes “stiff” and normal filling of the heart is impaired.

Around 15,000 new cases of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction are diagnosed in Australia each year.

In all, around 150,000 Australians suffer from the condition and experience a range of symptoms including poor quality of life, breathlessness, fatigue, and swelling of the abdomen and ankles.

The current treatment for the condition consists only of carefully managed medicines, which have limited effectiveness and often leaves patients with persistent symptoms and no permanent solution.

The IASD procedure takes around one hour. A minimally invasive device is implanted by a cardiologist into the person’s inter-atrial septum, the fibrous wall between the left and right top chambers of the heart, using a catheter delivery system inserted through a vein in the leg.

The goal of the procedure is to reduce blood pressure on the lungs, which is transmitted from the stiff left side of the heart. A small amount of blood is redistributed to the right side to reduce blood pressure in the left side and in the lungs.

Clinicians in the advanced heart failure and interventional cardiology units at The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, Dr Scott McKenzie and Professor Darren Walters are extremely excited by this new development in heart failure treatment.

“Until now, there has been no substantial treatment for patients with this particular type of heart failure,” Dr McKenzie said.

“Traditionally, patients with the condition are typically offered medication therapy, which offers only a small benefit on symptom control, a high risk of complications and no long term solution.”

“The reality is that around 30 to 50 percent of patients diagnosed with the condition pass away within three years of diagnosis.

“If successful, this new device could in the future, potentially provide the first effective treatment option for patients with this type of heart failure which accounts for half of the cardiac failure cases we see”.

“The treatment is minimally invasive which means less physical trauma to the patient, a short hospital stay (often only overnight) and quick recovery”.

“It is hoped that patients who have the treatment can expect to experience significant improvement in their breathlessness, be able to walk further, do more, feel better, be less likely to be admitted to hospital and have an overall increase in their quality of life.

“We hope that if this trial is successful, it will lead to further additional trials of the device in Australia and worldwide, and eventually become an accepted form of treatment for heart failure patients,” Dr McKenzie said.

The Prince Charles Hospital is one of only three hospitals in Australia and around 30 worldwide to trial the new device.

To be eligible for this trial, patients must meet a range of criteria following an assessment by the hospital’s heart failure team.

Heart failure is a contributor to around 95,000 hospital admissions every year in Australia.

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