MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute is the first in the state to offer the Barostim™ Baroreflex Activation Therapy, the world’s first FDA-approved heart failure device to use neuromodulation, to improve the symptoms of patients with systolic heart failure who may not receive adequate symptom relief from medications alone and those who are not suited for treatment with other heart failure devices, like cardiac resynchronization therapy.
“Minimally invasive procedures like this are great for our patients because they spare surrounding tissue and decrease post-surgical pain and recovery time, which help patients feel better faster,” Pamela Zimmerman, M.D., chief of Vascular Surgery at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, who performed the most recent implantation of the device earlier this month, said. “Heart failure can affect every aspect of a patient’s life, so we want to get them back to their normal as soon as possible.”
Unlike other heart failure device therapies, Barostim contains no hardware in the heart or vasculature. It works by electrically stimulating baroreceptors – natural sensors located in the wall of the carotid artery – that tell the nervous system how to regulate heart, kidney, and vascular function.
Barostim is implanted below the collar bone and connected to a lead that attaches to the carotid artery in the neck. After the device is implanted, a physician tests and programs the device, which delivers electrical impulses to cells in the neck called baroceptors. The baroceptors sense how blood is flowing through the carotid arteries and tells the nervous system how to regulate heart, kidney, and vascular function. The brain will then send signals to the heart and blood vessels that relax the blood vessels and inhibit the production of stress-related hormones to reduce heart failure symptoms.
The procedure typically lasts about an hour or less, and patients can go home the same day. Patients will need to visit their doctor for routine check-ups, during which the device settings are optimized to best improve heart failure symptoms.
It typically takes three-to-six months for patients to feel the full benefit, as the energy output of Barostim is gradually increased. These effects reduce the heart’s workload and help it pump more efficiently, restoring balance to the autonomic nervous system and improving the symptoms of heart failure.
Barostim plus heart failure medications have been shown to improve exercise capacity, quality of life, and heart failure classification, helping patients return to their daily activities.
“Offering the Barostim device is just one example of our multidisciplinary heart failure team, which is the only one of its kind in the state, coming together to provide the most cutting-edge treatment options for our patients,” George Sokos, D.O., director of the Advanced Heart Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension programs at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, said. “Our ultimate goal is for our patients to enjoy the best possible quality of life they can, and the more care options we have, the better we can do that.”
For more information on the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Heart.