Cardiac Device Helps Those Who Suffer From Heart Failure

New hope for people sufffer from heart failure. A new medical device called the Optimizer helps strengthen your heart muscles. Trinity Mother Frances Heart Institute is one of four hospitals in Texas that is participating in this clinical study.

We spoke with a doctor about how this cardiac device works and one of the first East Texas patients who has the device.

"I couldn't hardly walk or get around the house, mow the yard. I would sit in my chair and think of all the things that needed to be done," says 57 year old Doug Principe. Doug has had heart disease for the past 10 years. During that time he's underwent triple by-pass surgery and has 11 stints in his heart. After all of those procedures, he's always felt tired.

"I basically ended up being a coach potato. My life was just going down the tubes feeling like a big burden," says Doug.

Then in September of 2005 Dr. Stan Weiner implanted a cardiac device called the Optimizer. "The device is similar to a pace maker/defibrillator. The device itself is connected to the heart by a type of leads that go through the blood vessels and insert into the inside of the heart. Through those leads the device delivers special types of signals that stimulate the heart to squeeze a little bit harder. It allows the heart to deliver more blood flow to the body. It generally improves the overall feeling of the patient and certainly improves their ability to walk further and get tired less," says Dr. Weiner.

Doug says 30 days after the procedure he was already feeling better. "I was no longer sitting in that chair thinking about mowing the yard. I had the energy to go out and mow the yard," says Doug.

He even has the energy to play with his grand kids. "I took my grand kids to Kids Depot and climbed in the little nets with them. It's like getting a whole new lease on life," says Doug.

Doug says it's not only improved the quality of life but also the quantity.

Currently 10 East Texans are enrolled in the clinical study. Dr. Weiner says the procedure is minimally invasive and similar to a pacemaker procedure. It takes a couple of hours and the patients normally get to go home the next day. Right now, this procedure is not FDA approved for general use, just for the clinical trials.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.