More options for heart patients

03/01/2014 10:37 AM

03/02/2014 8:01 AM

For Wichitans and other heart patients in the region, more and more options are becoming available to treat various heart conditions, in part because of new technology coming onto the market and in part because of well-trained physicians in the area, say local cardiologists.

“I just kept getting short of breath and real tired, plus it felt like something was floating in my chest,” said 75-year-old Ada Wesley, who has long suffered from an irregular heartbeat. A CT scan revealed that indeed, her atrial fibrillation had gotten worse.

On Jan. 14, Wesley underwent a Lariat procedure – which has been called an innovative way to treat patients who can’t safely take blood thinners to control atrial fibrillation – at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis. She was the first of two patients there to undergo the procedure, according to hospital officials.

For the nearly 3 million Americans with atrial fibrillation, the condition causes the heart to beat too fast or too slow, making it harder for the heart to work and allowing clots to form in the left atrial appendage. With the nonsurgical Lariat treatment, two catheters are used to deliver a device that literally lassos the base of the left atrial appendage on the heart. When the lasso is tightened, the appendage is sealed, preventing blood clots from forming and reducing the potential for clots to break loose and cause a stroke.

The Lariat procedure is not currently being offered at Wesley Medical Center, according to Omar Ali, a structural cardiologist with Heartland Cardiology and medical director of the hospital’s structural heart program.

Other minimally invasive therapies that are currently being offered or will soon be available in Wichita include:

• The subcutaneous implantable defibrillator, or S-ICD, for patients with rapid heartbeat problems who are at higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest. The first S-ICD procedure in Kansas was done Jan. 30 at Via Christi. The device and its wires that shock the heart are implanted below the skin and not into the body cavity, like traditional implantable defibrillators, decreasing recovery time and posing less risk of infection. Currently Via Christi is the only hospital outside of the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., approved to do the procedure by the manufacturer, according to the Boston Scientific’s local sales representative, Chris Buchanan. It’s standard practice within the medical device industry to limit approved sites in a device’s early stages, Buchanan said. The S-ICD was FDA-approved in September 2012.
•  The MitraClip clip delivery system, approved by the FDA in October 2012, will soon be available at Via Christi’s St. Francis hospital. The MitraClip, which is catheter-guided to the heart through an incision into a blood vessel in the leg, improves mitral valve closure and reduces backflow of blood.
•  Closure procedures for atrial septal defect, or patent foramen ovale. About one in five Americans has a PFO, which results when the open flap that occurs in utero between the two upper chambers of the heart doesn’t close after birth. The condition puts PFO patients at higher risk for stroke or heart attack. In an alternative to open heart surgery to fix the hole, a tiny umbrella-like device is delivered by catheter to stop the abnormal blood flow between the two chambers. According to a news release, Wesley Medical Center was the first south-central Kansas hospital to complete a PFO closure. The procedure also is available at Via Christi, according to Bassem Chehab, structural cardiologist with Cardiovascular Consultants of Kansas and medical director of Via Christi Health’s structural heart program.

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