Surgeons at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester are launching a trial into the use of an implant to treat heart failure.
Unlike existing devices which help the heart to pump, the new CardioFit, will stimulate nerves in the neck allowing the heart to pump more slowly and therefore cope better. If proven effective it could be used as an alternative to lifelong drugs and heart pumps in patients with heart failure.
Lead investigator in the trial, Dr André Ng, a senior lecturer in cardiology at the University of Leicester and consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, said: “Our aim with the INOVATE-HF study is to assess CardioFit’s safety as well as its potential to improve heart function in patients with heart failure, thereby improving their quality of life and survival.
If the hypothesis is proven in the study results, this could transform heart failure treatment and would support the use of the innovative therapy over and above tablets for standard heart failure treatment.”
The CardioFit system stimulates the “parasympathetic” nervous system, via the vagus nerve in the right side of the neck, to reduce stress on the heart. “This is a potentially ground-breaking treatment for patients with heart failure” “My University of Leicester research group has been studying the relationship between vagus nerve stimulation and heart function for almost 15 years. It is really exciting that there is finally an innovative form of treatment available that will allow us to investigate its potential use in heart failure,” Dr Ng said.
The system has already been tried in 32 patients in Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Serbia where the results have been promising.
It was found that the heart was more flexible and able to cope with speeding up and slowing down as needed, resting heart rate was lowered and the force of the heart’s pumping action was improved. Patients who have already received the devices said they had a better quality of life and they performed better on hill walking tests.
Professor Huon Gray, Interim National Clinical Director for Cardiovascular Disease said: “We know that heart failure can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, so any potential advance in its treatment is to be welcomed.