Heart jacket effective treatment for heart failure

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The concept is simple: to halt deterioration of the heart muscle, wrap it in a mesh-like net to prevent further enlargement in patients with heart failure. It's like a jacket for the heart.

New research results from Saint Louis University and other institutions across the country found the "heart jacket" technique helped patients feel better and reduced the likelihood that they would need a heart transplant.

"There was a clear improvement in the size and shape of the heart, returning it to a more normal configuration," says Paul Hauptman, M.D., a SLUCare cardiologist and associate professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "It's a potentially revolutionary approach."

Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't circulate enough blood to meet the needs of the body. Patients who have the problem typically have enlarged hearts that continue to get larger and weaker as the condition progresses.

The CorCap Cardiac Support Device is an investigational, mesh-like heart "jacket" that is slipped around the heart during chest surgery and stitched in place to prevent any further enlargement. It is made from a custom knitted polyester fabric and is intended to be an adjunctive therapy for patients with moderate to severe heart failure.

Saint Louis University's Dr. Hauptman was the only investigator in Missouri involved in this clinical trial. He led the school's clinical trial in this area, which was sponsored by Acorn Cardiovascular of St. Paul, Minn., the manufacturer of the device.

The clinical trial involved 300 patients at 28 U.S. hospitals and one in Canada. Preliminary results found that the 148 patients randomized to receive the device showed significant improvement. The findings were presented this week at the American Heart Association Meeting in New Orleans.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first M.D. degree west of the Mississippi River. Saint Louis University School of Medicine is a pioneer in geriatric medicine, organ transplantation, chronic disease prevention, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and vaccine research, among others. The School of Medicine trains physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health services on a local, national and international level.

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