Miniature heart pump a life saver
Alfred cardiologists have used a miniature heart pump to keep a Melbourne-man alive during a high-risk stent procedure.
Director of the Catheter Laboratory, A/Prof Tony Walton, said his patient’s heart had become so weak due to blocked arteries that the team was concerned he wouldn’t make it through.
“We anticipated a long procedure due to the calcification in Stephen’s (patient) arteries – it acts like concrete and makes it harder to work – so the risk to him was very high,” Dr Walton said.
To support Stephen’s heart and blood pressure during the stenting procedure, doctors first inserted the powerful pump, called Impella, through his right femoral artery and placed it inside his left ventricle chamber.
“The pump delivers most of what a heart needs to do. Even if the heart stopped completely there would still be enough circulation to keep going while we rectified the problem.”
“The Impella sucks blood out of the chamber at 3.5 litres per minute (a normal heart can deliver five litres per minute) and delivers it into the aorta.”
With Stephen’s heart supported by the Impella, Dr Walton and the team were able to work on his arteries, accessing the heart through the right radial artery. They then inserted the stents, which hold open the narrowed arteries and restore blood flow to the heart.
“This is a Victorian first that will allow us to give the sickest of the sick a better chance during complex procedures or during a heart attack," said Dr Walton.