HACKENSACK, N.J. (WGEM)— Here’s a sobering statistic to think about this heart month, every 40 seconds in the United States, someone has a heart attack.
One of the most serious complications is a condition called cardiogenic shock where the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
Now, the world’s tiniest heart pump with Smart Assist is helping doctors save and strengthen a patient’s own heart.
For 38 years, Ron Rovito has been a fixture in New York high school football.
But the physical activity wasn’t enough to prevent heart disease. Ron had his first heart attack in July of 2019. Ron says a few months into his recovery, he began skipping his medication until he had a second heart attack one year ago.
“They actually gave me a 20 percent chance to make it through the night,” Rovito recalled.
Dr. Mark Anderson was one of the first surgeons in the United States to implant a newly revised heart pump.
It’s called the Impella 5.5 with Smart Assist. It’s designed to help patients whose own hearts are too weak to pump blood.
Surgeons insert a catheter into a small incision in a patient’s chest and implant the pump into the left ventricle of the heart.
The Impella 5.5 also has technology embedded in it that lets doctors use their phones or computer to measure pressure within the heart.
“Our focus is to try to get patients’ hearts to recover, take the device out, and then they go on with their native heart,” explained Mark Anderson, MD, interim chief of cardiac surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center and professor of surgery at Hackensack-Meridian School of Medicine.
Doctors implanted the Impella 5.5 into Ron’s left ventricle. When he was released a month later, Ron worked hard to improve his health, dropping almost 100 pounds.
“I mean I would sit down with a whole pizza pie before, and eat it! And now, I can barely eat two slices, but ... I love pizza,” shared Rovito.
He says it’s a small price to pay to stay healthy for the ones he loves.
Doctor Anderson says the Impella 5.5 also allows patients to get up and walk around after the device is implanted so that speeds the recovery process.
The pump is designed to work within a patient’s body for up to 14 days before it is removed.