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Each year, the lives of thousands of people across the country are saved because someone made the choice to become an organ donor. In April, Allegheny Health Network is honored to celebrate National Donate Life Month and pay tribute to all of those who have bestowed the precious gift of life to another through organ donation. Visit AHNdonate.org to learn more and register to be an organ donor.



Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


AGH Researchers Explore Use of Heart Wrap Device To Improve Cardiac Function, Exercise Capacity in Patients with Advanced Heart Failure

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Cardiovascular disease researchers at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) in Pittsburgh are exploring the use of a novel cardiac device that is wrapped around the heart to improve cardiovascular function and exercise capacity in patients with advanced heart failure. 

Called the HeartNet™ Ventricular Support System, the new technology is made of an elastic nickel titanium mesh that is designed to reinforce the walls of the heart and slow or stop its enlargement. By augmenting the heart’s pumping chambers, or ventricles, the device has shown the potential to help the heart work more efficiently and decrease the debilitating symptoms of heart failure, said Srinivas Murali, M.D., Director of AGH’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and Medical Director of the hospital’s Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute.

Under the direction of Dr. Murali and cardiovascular surgeon, Stephen Bailey, M.D., AGH is one of up to 30 U.S. medical centers investigating the safety and efficacy of the HeartNetTM device in a randomized clinical trial called the PEERLES-HF study (Prospective Evaluation of Elastic Restraint to Lessen the Effects of Heart Failure).

To date, four patients have been enrolled into the PEERLES-HF study at AGH. The enrollment goal nationwide is 274.

Other key AGH participants in the study include Raymond L. Benza, M.D., Director and Section Head of AGH’s Advanced Heart Failure, Transplantation, Mechanical Circulatory Support and Pulmonary Hypertension, and cardiologist George Sokos, DO.

“We are excited about the promise of this new technology in that it addresses the needs of a large patient population with debilitating symptoms. The HeartNet implant is a unique, surgical approach to assisting the failing heart on a permanent basis for patients who are failing medical therapy. Its compliant, elastic structure conforms to the epicardial surface of the heart, supporting it throughout the cardiac cycle and reducing stress on the heart muscle,” said Dr. Murali.

The American Heart Association estimates that more than 5 million Americans suffer from heart failure, including 10% of those over the age of 65. Heart failure is the leading cause of hospital admissions in the U.S. and the leading cause of cardiovascular disability in western Pennsylvania. Each year, more than 300,000 people die from the disease.

Preliminary studies conducted at AGH and a number of other leading medical centers in the United States have demonstrated this technology’s potential, particularly with regards to a form of heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged, reducing its ability to pump blood efficiently. Diminished heart function adversely affects the viability of other critical organs and body systems, including the lungs, kidneys and liver. Once diagnosed with the disease, less than 50% of patients live beyond five years.

Implantation of the HeartNet device takes about one hour to perform and is done through a small chest wall incision during an off-pump, or beating heart, procedure, said Dr. Bailey. Patients are typically admitted to the hospital from four to twelve days.

“The HeartNet device may offer an intriguing less invasive surgical option for patients with advanced heart failure. It has the potential to halt and reverse progressive deterioration in heart function, thereby avoiding the need for more invasive surgical therapies, such as left ventricular assist devices and heart transplantation, in some patients. Should the larger study that we are now involved in duplicates the success of this therapy in the early trials, it could prove to be a significant advancement in the treatment of many patients with heart failure,” Dr. Bailey said.

The HeartNet device was developed and is manufactured by Paracor Medical Inc., Sunnyvale, CA, the sponsor of the PEERLESS-HF trial. Those who wish to learn more about the study can call 1-866-344-0628 or visit the website www.bigheartstudy.com.


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