Testing a new tool to help hearts - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Testing a new tool to help hearts

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Stephen Brown is in heart failure, meaning his heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of his body.

"Within the past six months, I had been increasingly fatigued, dizzy occasionally, a little more trouble sleeping, a little more trouble breathing," Brown said.

The 74-year old is being fitted with a small device as part of a clinical trial at Mount Sinai hospital. It's designed to stimulate a nerve in his neck and ease those symptoms. A stimulator the size of a pacemaker is implanted under the skin. A sensor is placed into the heart and an electrode is put around the vagus nerve in the neck. When the sensor detects heart problems, the stimulator sends mild electrical pulses up the vagus nerve to help regulate the heart rate and relieve stress on the cardiac muscle.

"The ability of the heart to squeeze is actually improved. This is an improvement that is sustained not just in the short-term, but is sustained out to at least 24 months," said Dr. Vivek Reddy of Mount Sinai Hospital.

"I am generally hoping to prolong my life, buy some time," Brown said.

Patients may start to see their symptoms improve several weeks after undergoing the procedure.

The device, called CardioFit, is already approved in Europe. Vagus nerve stimulation has also been used to treat epilepsy and depression.

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