World’s smallest heart pump saves ‘untreatable’ patients

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Two high-risk coronary patients considered ‘untreatable’ have had successful procedures using the world’s smallest heart pump – its first use in an Australian private hospital.

Brisbane’s St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital funded the two procedures at a cost of $40,000 each as part of its commitment to providing access to the latest advances in technology.

“St Andrew’s is a hospital that tackles the previously defined ‘untreatable’ patient, as that patient usually means the world to someone,” general manager Walter Bourdelov said.

Dr Alexander Incani, cardiologist at St Andrew’s and CardioVascular Clinics, performed both percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures using the Impella CP, which significantly cuts the risk for patients with poor heart function and reduced blood supply.

“Previously, these patients would have been considered too risky to treat,” Dr Incani said.

The tiny pump temporarily maintains stable heart function, having been inserted via catheter into the leg artery and guided up into the heart. It increases blood pressure and provides more blood-flow to vital organs such as the brain and kidneys.

“A protected PCI procedure with this pump improves safety and allows the interventionalist to complete complex stenting with little stress of haemodynamic collapse,” Dr Incani said.

“By providing haemodynamic support, even when the heart stops, the patient can still talk to the doctor while the procedure is underway,” he added.

The pump’s use could mean fewer days in the hospital, fewer repeat procedures and an improved quality of life for patients who may previously have been inoperable.

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