Lifewatch: Heart wrap

Reported by Kristy Ondo - email

Posted by Debra Worley - email

NEW YORK, NC (WECT) - Five million Americans suffer from heart failure, and an estimated 150 thousand could benefit from advanced treatments like heart pumps or transplants.

There aren't enough donor hearts, and some patients are too ill for major surgery, but now there is another option on the horizon.

Antoinette Jackson was surprised when doctors diagnosed her with an enlarged heart in 2002.

"I was able to walk two or three blocks, I was able to do a little bit of things, not a lot of things but some things. And they were saying your function is getting lower," said Jackson. 

Her doctor told her she'd need a transplant or something else to help her failing heart.

He suggested an experimental device called the heart net.  It's a stretchy, mesh net that is placed around the heart like a hair net.

"By supporting the outside of the heart, we reduce the stress on the heart muscle and with a goal of decreasing the size of the heart and improving heart function," said cardiologist, Dr. Simon Maybaum.

"We're basically going to slip a stocking around the heart. The stocking has a little bit of elasticity to it and it has some stretch. And it's put on using a device that will place it around the heart obviating the need for me to get my hands in there around the heart," said cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. David D'Alessandro.

The surgery is minimally invasive and is easier on patients.  After a few days in the hospital, they go home and recover in a few weeks.

Nine months after surgery, Jackson was walking further, exercising more, and enjoying life.

How to get involved in the clinical trials for Heart Net:

Patients interested in participating in the clinical research study may call Caritas St. Elizabeth's Medical Center's Research Coordinator Ann M. Pieczek, BSN, RN, at 617-789-3043 for more information and to determine eligibility. Information about the device is also available, here.

For more information go to Heart Net, here.