Palmetto Health Heart Hospital is the first hospital in the Midlands and one of only two hospitals in South Carolina to implant a HeartMate II® left ventricular assist device (LVAD), in a patient with a failing heart while he awaits a cardiac transplant. Dr. Jeffery Martin, cardiovascular surgeon with Carolina Cardiac Surgery Associates — part of the Palmetto Health Physician Network — surgically implanted the device. This type LVAD allows patients to be discharged from the hospital with uninterrupted support from the device.
Under its new LVAD program, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital will be able to offer this life-saving technology to people in the Midlands and surrounding areas. "It is a means to prolong the lives of patients with severe heart failure," said Martin. "This patient population that has not had access to this important tool and we're excited to be able to offer it to patients in this region." Martin is part of a dedicated team that has an interest in the treatment of advanced heart failure. The team is comprised of several physicians, advanced practice nurses and other specially trained health care providers that work collaboratively in caring for these complex patients.
Dr. Verne Prosser, cardiologist with Columbia Heart added, "I have taken care of this patient for many years. He was short of breath, even at rest. We had exhausted all other medical possibilities. Without this [LVAD] option, he would not have been able to survive any longer."
The HeartMate II® is a surgically implanted LVAD that assists the heart with pumping blood to the body. This assistance is needed when the heart is too weak to supply the organs of the body with enough blood to stay viable, known as advanced heart failure. The LVAD does not replace the heart, but is attached to the heart and a major blood vessel, called the aorta, during open heart surgery. The pump must receive power via batteries located outside of the body in order to operate.
There are two circumstances in which a patient may need an LVAD. One is if the patient is listed for a heart transplant but is becoming too sick while waiting on a donor heart to become available, and could die while on the waiting list. This indication is known as "bridge to transplant". The second indication for an LVAD is when a patient is not a candidate for heart transplantation or prefers the LVAD over a transplant, known as "destination therapy." Destination therapy patients will be supported on the LVAD until end of life, which could be several years.
Before LVAD implantation; advanced heart failure patients are usually fatigued, short of breath, and too tired to tolerate simple tasks; such as getting dressed or walking to check the mail. The LVAD can provide increased quality of life allowing the patient to carry out daily activities with minimal restrictions. It also has been shown to prolong the life of patients with advanced heart failure.
For more information about Palmetto Health Heart Hospital services call 803-434-7808.