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Tuesday 18th June 2019

Implant for heart failure is trialled

23rd August 2012

A nerve-stimulating implant for patients with heart failure is being trialled for the first time in the UK.

heart surgery

It has already been trialled in 32 European patients, but the work now being varied out at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester is the first time the pioneering operation to fit the device has been performed in this country.

The device is similar to a pacemaker and fitted to the vagus nerve running between the heart and brain down the right side of the neck with researchers hoping it will cut the stress on the heart, reducing swelling and improving quality of life.

Cardiologist Dr Andre Ng from Glenfield Hospital said: “This is a potentially ground-breaking treatment for desperate patients with heart failure, a serious condition that has increased over the past years in epidemic proportions.”

His University of Leicester research group has been studying the relationship between vagus nerve stimulation and heart function for almost 15 years and hopes this study will transform heart failure treatment and "support the use of the innovative therapy over and above tablets for standard heart failure treatment".

The device has proved successful in rats and dogs and so far patients who have taken part in the pilot clinical have seen improvements in heart function, resting heart rate and quality of life.

While nerve-stimulating implants have been trialled in this country before, this one is different in that it only targets signals that go to the heart, and not those that go from the heart to the brain.


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