"Parachute" Trial Helps Patient Who Suffered "Widow-maker" Heart Attack

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Bob Hallinan

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          When she first had a heart attack, Bertha Marshall didn’t even realize it…she only knew she didn’t feel well. Doctors say that’s common, as women’s heart attack symptoms are not always as dramatic as those of men. But her doctor confirmed she’d had what’s called a “widow maker,” which left her with a portion of her heart that had essentially died. It also left her tired and short of breath, since her heart was now working harder to pump blood through her body.

            Dr. Mark Wiley, an interventional cardiologist at The University of Kansas Health System, felt Marshall was a perfect candidate for a minimally-invasive experimental therapy called the Parachute Ventricular Partitioning Device. The "Parachute," which opens like an upside-down umbrella, is placed in the left ventricle through a thin tube that is threaded through a small puncture in the groin. Opened, the device partitions off the diseased section of the heart.    

          "If you keep the blood where the pumping is still occurring, you make the heart work more efficiently," Wiley said. "Partitioning or shielding that area deflects blood into the part that still works, so you don't waste energy."    

          Marshall noticed a difference soon after the procedure, and is confident her former energy level will return soon. 

         In the video, Dr. Mark Wiley explains who the device is for, how it works and what a difference it will make in those patients’ lives. Bertha Marshall describes what happened to her, how bad she felt, and after getting the Parachute device how confident she is that she’ll soon be feeling like her old self again.

         Also included is video of her checkup in the doctor’s office one month after receiving the device, plus colorful before and after video of her heart scans. The scan on the right shows the slower, more labored heart pumping while the one on the left shows the faster, more efficient blood flow.