HealthWatch: Beat Heart Failure With Barostim


 — The number of Americans living with congestive heart failure is on the rise; it’sexpected to affect more than eight million people by 2030. For many of those patients, medications stop working. Now a little device may hold the key to a more active and happier life. 
A few months ago, Joe Knox couldn’t take a simple walk due to his congestive heart failure. 
“I couldn’t walk from the door of my house to the car without being out of breath,” Knox said.
And Knox isn’t alone. Doctors say many heart failure patients stop responding to medication that helps the heart circulate blood.
Joshua Larned, MD, Medical Director of Heart Failure Services at Holy Cross Hospital explained, “The analogy is when the car can’t drive up the hill, the engine has some damage and it’s the same thing with the heart.”
Knox is taking part in the Beat HF clinical trial at Holy Cross Hospital.     
Dr. Larned said, “This clinical trial investigates the use of a device called a barostim stimulation device which the design of it is to help the heart simply relax.”
The barostim is implanted much like a pacemaker but it sits on top of the carotid artery. 
“It actually tells the heart to relax by lowering what’s called the sympathetic activity to the heart,” Dr. Larned continued.
So the heart doesn’t have to work as hard. Every two weeks, Joe has the device adjusted. 
Knox said, “As the intensity goes up, the benefits go up.” 
Dr. Larned says so far, the technology is proving to be safe and well tolerated. Knox says now he can enjoy walking the dog with his husband.
“I’m able to drive myself, go grocery shopping myself, push the cart around. Definitely a lifesaver,” Knox told Ivanhoe.
Giving people living with heart failure a chance at a more active life. 
Dr. Larned says the barostim device is not a cure for heart failure but could help patients live a better quality of life. Knox says the only side effects he’s felt so far are mild headaches.  He says that’s worth it due to how much better he feels. For more information on the Beat HF study, please visit or 
Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Judy Reich, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Each year over five million Americans are diagnosed with heart failure for a variety of different reasons. There are a variety of different factors that can cause the heart’s inability to circulate blood; these can range from coronary disease, obesity, to uncontrolled blood pressure. The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease where the heart’s arteries become dysfunctional. If left untreated, heart failure could carry a worse prognosis than cancer; it could be potentially terminal. It is a progressive disease that could slowly cause organ dysfunction as a result of improper blood flow. Treatments range from medications to different surgical options such as angioplasty (a procedure that threads a small tube with a balloon into the artery to push out the blockage) or bypass surgery, where a surgeon uses blood vessels taken from one area of the body to repair the damaged ones.
(Sources: & Joshua Larnard, MD)
DIAGNOSING: It is important to report any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing that could potentially be a result of heart failure; for example if you or your loved one have a persistent cough or wheezing, shortness of breath, excess fluid build up in your body tissue, lack of appetite, unusual fatigue, nausea, impaired thinking, and increased heart rate. After a doctors’ exam, which may include things like reviewing your medical history, taking your blood pressure and weight, your doctor may call for tests and procedures to help determine the nature of the problem and where it could be located. Once diagnosed, treatment will vary based on the patient and their needs.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A clinical trial investigating the use of a stimulation device, named a Barostim, is underway. When the body is activated and the heart is working harder, neurohormones are released. The Barostim blocks some of these pathways, helping the heart relax and function better on its own. By placing the device directly on the artery there is a receptor that tells the heart to relax by lowering what is referred to as sympathetic activity. “Think of it like this, under a period of stress your adrenalin levels get activated. And that’s a normal adaptive response, except when you have heart failure, adrenalin activation all the time can be a bad thing and cause the heart, which is already diseased, to work that much harder. So this device shuts that whole pathway down so the heart can relax and become more functional.”
(Source: Joshua Larnard, MD)


Christine Walker, Holy Cross Hospital PR

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know~to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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