Health Watch: Parachute Saves the Heart

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More than five million Americans suffer from heart failure, meaning their hearts are no longer strong enough to pump blood efficiently. (KFSN)

More than five million Americans suffer from heart failure, meaning their hearts are no longer strong enough to pump blood efficiently. In severe cases, a special pump or a heart transplant may be the only life-saving treatments and researchers are now testing a new minimally-invasive option.

Retired Pittsburgh policeman Conrad "Connie" Foltyn had some close calls during decades on the street.

Connie told Ivanhoe, "Staring guns down sometimes, taking bombs apart, very stressful things."

Ironically, it wasn't the job, but his failing heart that almost did him in.

"I guess they brought me back after cardiac arresting three, four, five times," he said.

Connie had a heart attack, and then struggled for years with the symptoms of congestive heart failure.

Connie's wife, Deb Foltyn told Ivanhoe, "If he wanted to go to the kitchen, he'd have to stop several times. If he was speaking a sentence, he would have to stop and take a breath after three words."

David Lasorda, DO, Interventional Cardiologist at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh thought Connie would be a good candidate for a new procedure called the parachute ventricular partitioning device.

Dr. Lasorda told Ivanhoe, "We're able to put this in through an artery in the leg, and it's not a surgical procedure."

Doctors deploy the parachute into the left ventricle, where it anchors permanently to the heart walls. The parachute blocks the malfunctioning portion of the heart, allowing it to pump more efficiently.

Just a few months after the procedure, Connie was able to landscape their backyard.

"The stones weigh 66 to 70 pounds; I have no problem with those, picking them up," Connie said.
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