HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The world's smallest heart pump is helping save lives right here in the Pine Belt.
It's called the Impella device, and doctors are using it on heart attack patients. Here's a breakdown from Forrest General Cardiologist Dr. Craig Thieling about the device.
"Impella device is a small heart pump," Dr. Thieling said. "It's really the world's smallest heart pump. Another thing that's unique about this is we are able to put this in just through an artery in the groin. You do not have to have open heart surgery or any type of surgical procedure to put this in."
He said the normal heart pumps about five liters of blood per minute, but this device is different.
"There are several different sizes that pump anywhere from two and a half up to five liters per minute," Thieling said. "There are several different scenarios where we use this device. We use it often in high risk coronary interventions where we are putting in stints in high risk patients whose heart functions may be weak and we need additional support for their blood pressure."
The new technology has saved lives, and Grant Breland knows firsthand. He was suffering from a massive heart attack when he showed up at Forrest General Hospital's Emergency Room back in February. Thieling immediately stepped in.
"I'm overwhelmed," Breland said.
"As he arrived in the ER, he developed cardiac arrest," Thieling said. "He required prolonged CPR, we had to shock his heart multiple times to try and get him back in a normal rhythm. He was in cardiogenic shock where his blood pressure was extremely low because his heart couldn't pump enough blood to keep his blood pressure up."
The Impella device was inserted into an artery through Breland's groin. As the device supported his blood pressure, Dr. Thieling was allowed time to repair the blockage in his left main artery.
"Most of the time we use this device when people have what we call cardiogenic shock, where their heart is too weak to keep their blood pressure elevated," Dr. Thieling said. "Often times we see this in patients who have had a massive heart attack."
Thieling said this unique device provides a level of cardiac support doctors have not seen in the past.
"In his case I do not think he would have made it without this device," he said. "I don't think we would have had enough time to put a stint in."
"It's amazing," Breland said. "Someone is very smart and I thank them for it. I'm still here."