New method to treat heart disease

March 23, 2011 3:05:23 PM PDT
Doctors have found a new way to combat heart disease and stop it right in its track.

Five million Americans are living with heart failure, and that number is expected to double in the next 15 years.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a new way to keep people with mild forms of heart disease from progressing to advanced disease.

Every moment is a bonus moment for Elmer Goodman. A few months ago, he found out he has heart disease.

"One artery was completely blocked, and one was three-quarters blocked," said Goodman.

After a quadruple bypass, Goodman still didn't feel well. He then had a cardiac resynchronization device with a defibrillator implanted.

"It's probably one of the most spectacular effects of therapy we can see," said Dr. Wojciech Zareba, MD Cardiologist University of Rochester, in Rochester.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy is used for advanced heart failure, but doctors studied it as a new way to prevent patients with mild disease from developing more advanced heart failure, it worked. They found a 34 percent reduced risk of death or heart failure in those patients.

"This is, for us, extremely, extremely encouraging results," said Dr. Zareba.

Doctors implant the device and connect wire leads to the heart chambers and heart wall via vessels. The device sends electrical impulses to both sides of the heart.

"It's like turning on the light. All of the sudden in a few seconds - minutes, this heart is improving. It starts contracting better," said Dr. Zareba.

Goodman felt the effects right away. Now, he has a lot more energy to do the things he loves.

"I'm happy to be able to go out and do things. It's really changed the quality of my life," said Goodman.

Dr. Zareba points out for unknown reasons, the therapy is actually more beneficial to women, resulting in a 63 percent reduction in their risk of heart failure.