Says Mesh Stocking Can Help Weak Hearts Pump Blood
Published: November 8, 2004
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 7 (AP) - A mesh stocking pulled up over the
wide bottom of a weak heart can help it pump better and even
shrink back to a more normal size, according to a study described
Sunday at an American Heart Association Conference here.
About 150 heart failure patients who received this simple device
felt better, were less likely to need heart transplants or other
operations, and improved in other ways when compared with people
who did not get the fabric wrap, the researchers said.
"There was a 75 percent overall improvement," said
Dr. Douglas Mann, a cardiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine
who led the study for the device's maker, Acorn Cardiovascular,
and reported its results on Sunday. "This does more than
any existing therapy that's out there today."
Several experts said the surgically implanted polyester stocking
could fill a gap for people who were not helped by drugs or
pacemakers and who did not want, or could not have, a mechanical
heart pump or an organ transplant.
"We have little to offer surgically," said Dr. Timothy
Gardner, a heart surgeon from the University of Pennsylvania
who had no role in the study. "There's a lot of interest
in this kind of simple technique."
The heart wrap is still experimental. But Acorn Cardiovascular,
of St. Paul, already has approval to sell it in Europe and plans
to seek approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration
early next year.
The stretchy mesh device looks like fishnet hose but acts like
support stockings. It requires no batteries or moving parts.
Once placed around the heart through an incision in the chest,
the mesh sticks to it and becomes a permanent implant.
Heart failure occurs when the heart is weak or damaged and cannot
pump effectively. It enlarges to accommodate the extra blood,
and fluid can back up into the lungs, leaving people short of
breath and tired all the time. Patients usually grow progressively
weaker, and most live only about five years after diagnosis.
About five million Americans have heart failure, and more than
a million have the moderately severe type that might be helped
by the wrap.
"There are many patients in this class who are progressing
and don't have good treatment options," said Dr. Spencer
Kubo, Acorn's medical director.
The study included 300 patients at 28 hospitals in the United
States and one in Canada.