New device benefits some heart failure patients

MIAMI – It’s estimated that nearly 6.5 million Americans over the age of 20 have heart failure which is a lifelong condition in which the heart muscle can’t pump enough to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.

Now, an innovative option was created that’s improving the quality of life for these patients.

Amanda Masso never had any major health issues, until she developed pregnancy-induced cardiomyopathy.

“And the day my daughter was born they told me my heart was four sizes too big,” Masso said.

Her health changed overnight.

“I went from being a regular 24-year-old to being bedridden,” Masso said.

“Heart failure is one of the most common diagnoses in cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Luanda Grazette, Director of UHealth’s Heart Failure Unit.

Grazette has expanded the program with new clinical trials and technologies to help patients.

“This is an exciting time to be a doctor who takes care of patients with heart failure and it’s actually a pretty good time to be a patient with heart failure because we have a variety of treatment options,” Grazette said.

Among them, a tiny implantable device called Barostim, is part of a new class of devices that work on a particular aspect of cardiac dysfunction.

“The Barostim in particular is the first FDA-approved device that actually works at the level of correcting the autonomic or nervous system dysfunction that happens with heart failure,” Grazette said.

After receiving the implant, the first thing Masso noticed was she had volume in her voice again.

Now, she’s finally able to do simple things that had previously been a struggle.

“I could cross a parking lot which I haven’t been able to do in decades and that was an improvement so I’m grateful for that,” Masso said.

UHealth is one of a few hospitals in Florida and the nation trained to offer the Barostim device.

It’s intended for patients with heart failure who currently have no proven treatment options.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.