By Alfio Carroccio, MD and Stavros Mountantonakis, MD
With over six million Americans suffering from heart failure, it’s possible that every one of us knows someone who is diagnosed with this debilitating and deadly disease. As medical professionals, our patient loads are filled with those who are looking to live normal lives without fear. At Lenox Hill Hospital, we were the first in New York City to implant a device called Barostim that can help make this dream a reality.
Heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is when the heart isn’t pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This can happen when the heart is unable to fill up with enough blood or is not strong enough to pump properly. There are many causes to heart failure, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy. What’s dangerous about this condition is many of the symptoms are often attributed to old age and are, then, left undiagnosed. Symptoms include shortness of breath, dry cough, swelling of feet, ankles and legs, increased urination, and fluid buildup in the stomach and neck. If left untreated, heart failure can lead to serious heart conditions, including pulmonary hypertension, heart valve disease and even cardiac arrest, which can be deadly.
Barostim is the world’s first FDA-approved device that stimulates nerve endings located within the carotid artery to help pump blood in a more efficient way. These nerve endings, called baroreceptors, detect changes in blood pressure and then inform the nervous system on how to regulate the heart, kidney, and vascular function. Barostim uses continuous stimulation to reduce the heart’s workload and alleviate the symptoms of heart failure. This device may be a blessing for patients who have had little or no success with other treatments.
For many years, we have been prescribing medications to block the over-activation of the nervous system in patients with heart failure. For the first time now, we can communicate with the brain directly through this technology and modulate its function in a favorable way for the heart.
In July, we implanted Barostim in a 55-year-old patient named Boguslaw Micek. He has suffered from chronic heart failure due to coronary artery disease and hypertension. He sustained a heart attack in February 2021 and despite extensive medical therapy, including using a defibrillator, his heart health continued to deteriorate. He was constantly in an out of the hospital seeking treatment for various heart-related conditions and we felt this device might be life-changing for him.
In a recent check-up, Mr. Micek said he is feeling great, and he is not alone. Barostim is a groundbreaking therapeutic method that is proven to improve the quality of life for many patients with heart disease. Studies have shown that Barostim may result in a reduction in the frequency and length of hospitalizations, and a decrease in other serious cardiovascular events, such as arrhythmias, anginas, and heart attacks.
We are extremely proud to be a part of this innovative step in curbing heart disease. Batostim is the latest addition to the multifaceted approach Lenox Hill Hospital utilizes to improve the lives of our cardiac patients.
If you have heart failure and the treatments you’ve tried are not working, Barostim may be what you’re looking for. We at Lenox Hill Hospital are happy to speak with you about your condition and see if you could be a candidate for this new device that has shown to be effective for so many patients.
Dr. Alfio Carroccio is the chief of vascular surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and Dr. Stavros Mountantonakis is the director of electrophysiology at Lenox Hill Hospital.