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‘Parachute’ could lift quality of life for heart failure patients

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Wayne Linhardt, a heart patient, has high hopes over something called Parachute.

"I want to breathe better.  I want to have energy to do a few things," said Linhardt.

The Lincoln, Missouri man has heart failure from a heart attack decades ago.  His left ventricle enlarged and stiffened over time, putting pressure on the rest of the heart.  That causes fatigue and life-threatening rhythms.

"He's been shocked by his defibrillator many times because the rest of the heart is so irritable because of this extra pressure," said Dr. Andrew Kao, Linhardt's cardiologist.

At Saint Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute, Linhardt became the first patient in our area, and the 52nd in the country to get the experimental device called Parachute.  No open heart surgery was necessary.  Dr. Adnan Chhatriwalla threads catheters from the groin up to the heart.  He places an anchor device for the parachute.  A little balloon is used to open the parachute, and then it's hooked to heart muscle.   The parachute closes off the stiff part of the heart, preventing blood from pooling there.

"So the healthy tissue is able to work with less strain so it's sort of like lifting 100 pounds before.  Now you're lifting 50 pounds," said Dr. Kao.

A computer lottery determines which patients in the study get the device and which get standard medical therapy.  The study will see if Parachute can slow the progression of heart failure, prevent hospital stays, and improve survival and quality of life.

"I want to be able to go fishing.  I want to be able to travel," said Linhardt.

A parachute could make it possible.

Risks include bleeding and infection. But the procedure could be less risky than open heart surgery to cut out the bad tissue.  Previously, that was the only option for some people with this type of heart failure.

For more information on the study, CLICK HERE.

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