Dec 16, 2021 - News

Austin doctors help stave off heart failure

Medics load a heart disease patient into an ambulance.
Medics in Houston transport a patient with cardiac arrest. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Doctors at St. David's Medical Center in Central Austin are among the first in the United States to use a novel technology to help treat advanced heart failure.

The big picture: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. men and women, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • One person dies every 36 seconds in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease.

How it works: The new technology uses the nervous system to stave off heart failure.

  • The innovation involves implanting a programmable device under the patient’s collarbone.
  • The FDA-approved device sends electrical pulses to sensors on our hearts that detect changes in blood pressure.

What they're saying: The set of pulses "tricks the body into thinking that the … nervous systems are working correctly," Jeffrey Apple, a vascular surgeon with Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons who first performed the procedure at St. David's in August, said.

  • "The brain then responds and sends messages to the body that the heart is working properly. This relaxes the blood vessels, slows the heart rate and reduces fluid in the body," Apple said.
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