COLUMBUS, Ohio —  A device to help patients with congestive heart failure could become a new option for therapy for other heart failure patients.

What You Need To Know

  • OSU Wexner Medical Center is the first in the world to take part in a trial verifying the efficacy of a device set to treat diastolic heart failure (DHF)
  • It was a blind trial that began in 2020 where a patient received a device to treat DHF
  • DHF causes the heart to stiffen
  • Researchers are looking to enroll around 260 patients in another trial to further prove the therapy works

Dr. Rami Kahwash is Director of OSU Heart and Vascular research and a Professor of Clinical Medicine in OSU’s College of Medicine. He said diastolic heart failure (DHF) does not allow an adequate flow of blood coming from the lung. As a result, “The blood will be backing up in the lung. And when that happens, the pressure starts to build up.” He added that when a person begins any sort of activity like going up and down stairs, the pressure in their heart goes up a great deal. 

Cecil Hamilton, 62, is a prime example of that.

“I was pretty desperate. I couldn't walk very far at alL, maybe a couple hundred feet without stopping and resting. I couldn't even take out the trash. I was at the point where I was really, really considering trying to retire on disability from work,” he explained.

With little hope of improvement, Hamilton took part in the first randomized trial. 

Looking for a way to treat the condition through a clinical trial, Dr. Kahwash said, “The principle of this trial is basically to create a small opening between the upper two chambers of the heart. The hope is that opening will allow some of the blood to circulate back into the right system.”

Ultimately, the one who received the device was able to move about for longer periods of time with more energy.

Going in for a procedure, Hamilton said he didn’t know if he received the apparatus or not.

“But within a couple of days, I started feeling the difference. I could walk further. I could tolerate more activity," he said. “I was able to start losing weight."

Although it wasn’t confirmed until later that he had indeed received the device, Hamilton explained that he’d already felt like he was given a new lease on life. 

Now that researchers know the device can work, they are working to further prove in another trial that the therapy is effective in a wider population of people.

They are currently working to enroll people in the trials.

“We're looking to enroll around 260 patients," said Kahwash. “It’s going to be open in the US, Europe and Australia. We're thinking we can finish this trial in early 2024.”

If researchers can prove that the therapy works for a larger population of people, then it would go through the appropriate channels, including the FDA for approval.

If approved, Dr. Kahwash said it could help about three million Americans with diastolic heart failure.