Scientists develop pioneer implant that can revitalise failing hearts

A nerve-stimulating implant is to be offered to British patients with debilitating heart failure, giving hope to thousands for whom standard treatments offer no relief.

The first British patient to be fitted with the pioneering electronic device had the surgery earlier this month at Harefield Hospital, London. Within two weeks he was able to walk around the local store with his daughter, a simple task that the extreme fatigue and breathlessness caused by his condition had left him unable to manage before.

Three ‘massive’ heart attacks had left Kamar Zaman, 53, housebound due to heart failure and, despite being given the highest doses of standard drug treatments, doctors had been unable to improve his symptoms.

6Speaking of his health before the operation, the former taxi driver and father-of-three from Luton said: “I could barely walk as far as the kitchen – I even struggled for breath while talking.”

His condition is now improving. He says: “My breathing is easier and I can walk further – last week, I was able to go to the supermarket and walk around.”

The battery-powered implant, called Barostim Neo, sits within the chest, below the collarbone.

A wire coming from a credit card-sized generator is threaded up beneath the skin so it sits beside one of the two carotid arteries, the main blood vessels in the neck.

This delivers electrical impulses to nerves in the neck known as baroreceptors, which regulate blood pressure. This stimulation is key in easing the strain on the heart caused by heart failure, leading to an improvement in symptoms.

Heart failure – which is when the heart does not pump blood around the body sufficiently – affects approximately 500,000 Britons.

The problem usually develops because the heart muscle is damaged, often by a heart attack. To compensate for reduced pumping power, the chambers within the heart respond by stretching to hold more blood.

– Culled from Mail Online

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