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News Updates from the Texas Heart Institute

Improved Stroke Prevention Procedure Performed on
Patient with Heart-Assist Device (HeartMate II)

Houston, Texas (August 10, 2010) – Doctors at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital (SLEH) for the first time have performed a carotid artery stent procedure on a patient implanted with a heart-assist device (LVAD) known as the HeartMate® II, showing that the improved, nonsurgical, stroke-fighting procedure can be combined with LVAD therapy in patients with heart failure.

"We welcome this stent procedure as yet another step forward in the alternative treatment to traditional surgery," said Neil E. Strickman MD, FACC, Co-Director of the Peripheral Vascular Interventional program at THI at SLEH who performed this procedure under local anesthesia in the cardiac catheterization lab. "It's a safer, equally effective treatment compared to traditional carotid artery surgery to help prevent strokes. Patients with LVADs have already been through a lot and this affords them the treatment to help improve care for them without putting them through another complicated surgery."

A team of THI cardiologists at SLEH recently performed its 1,000th carotid artery stent procedure. [See previous news release.] Carotid artery stenting (CAS) has emerged as a less invasive treatment for stroke-causing blockages in the carotid artery, meaning patients generally have fewer risks for complications, shorter hospital stays and recovery times, and less expense.

THI at SLEH is a leader in the development, testing and application of heart-assist devices, including left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). LVAD heart pumps have been approved as a "bridge to transplant" for heart failure patients. The implanted devices were approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year as a "destination therapy" for patients not eligible for heart transplants. [See previous news release.] In some cases the devices have allowed weakened hearts to recover function and allowed physicians to remove them.

The CAS procedure was performed on a patient, Sandra Haberle of The Woodlands, at SLEH last month, after she presented to her physician with symptoms of an incomplete stroke and was offered the nonsurgical CAS procedure.* She had been fitted with a HeartMate II in March 2010. (This is the same type pump that former Vice President Dick Cheney recently received to help him with his current underlying congestive heart failure.) 

Mrs. Haberle said she was unaware that her case was so unique. "I wish I wasn't," she said, "but I am glad I am alive and thank the Lord for giving me warning signs and having Dr. Strickman to treat me."

* Note: Patient interview available upon request.

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For media inquiries please contact:
Texas Heart Institute
Frank Michel  ♦  832-355-9510

For THI and St. Luke's media profiles, see Public Affairs.

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