World's smallest heart pump being used in Lake Charles

World's smallest heart pump being used in Lake Charles

The world's smallest heart pump is now being used at one Lake Charles hospital - the only spot between Houston and New Orleans with the revolutionary device.

Dr. Thomas Mulhearn, and interventional cardiologist at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, gave us the 411 on how it works.

Heart patients in emergency situations now have a new lifeline thanks to the Abiomed Impella 2.5.  The device is the world's smallest heart pump and it is now being used by cardiologists at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital.  "It's basically a device that supports the pumping function of the heart during high risk cardiac procedures and other procedures in people that have weakened heart muscles," said Dr. Mulhearn.

Heart muscles can be weak from a heart attack, infection or coronary artery disease - making it too risky to undergo corrective procedures like angioplasty or stents. That is where this small pump comes in.  "It is a life-saving piece of equipment. You don't think you need it until you actually need it and when you do, you're very glad that it's around," said Dr. Mulhearn.

Even though the opening on the pump is tiny, every minute 2.5 liters worth of blood can pass through it.  That is something that can be life-saving for a patient in cardiac distress.  "Prior to this, we had a balloon pump and we still do use the balloon pump," said Dr. Mulhearn, "but it doesn't give you the kind of support that this has."

That support comes from the tiny catheter, fed from a small incision in the patient's groin. It goes up the aorta and into the left ventricle of the heart.  "This part of the device sits in the left ventricle, which is the pumping chamber of the heart and it takes blood in and ejects it out into the aorta, which is the receiving part that pumps blood to the rest of the body," said Dr. Mulhearn.

Without that immediate blood flow, heart muscle could be permanently damaged or a patient could even die.

While it is an incredible new tool for cardiac patients, cardiologists say it is great for them, too.  "It allows us to do a better job while the heart is supported during the procedure," said Dr. Mulhearn.

In the six months that St. Pat's has had the Impella system, they have performed 10 cardiac procedures.

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