Albany Med Health System Implants Groundbreaking New Device to Treat Heart Failure

The Albany Med Health System has successfully implanted the world’s first FDA-approved heart failure device designed to treat patients who have had little to no success with other proven treatment options.

The procedure took place at Albany Medical Center and was performed by R. Clement Darling, III, MD, chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery. The patient was referred by electrophysiologist Rizwan Alimohammad, MD, from Capital Cardiology Associates. Albany Med is the second institution to perform the procedure in New York State.

Barostim Baroreflex Activation Therapy consists of an implanted device that uses electrical pulses to stimulate the heart’s blood pressure sensors through an electrode that lies on the patient's carotid artery in the neck. The electrical impulses that are sent from the neuromodulation device inform the brain of the heart's condition, enabling the brain to improve the function of the heart by relaxing the blood vessels, thereby slowing the heart rate. Over time, the heart will regain strength, lessening the symptoms of heart failure, enabling patients to return to normal activity.

“This unique technology is customizable to meet each patient’s individual therapy needs and offers the potential to improve quality of life and reduce health risks associated with heart failure, including heart and kidney disease, stroke, and death,” said Dr. Darling. “We are proud to bring heart failure patients in our region this life-changing therapy.”

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. Without effective treatment, most people with heart failure die within five years of being diagnosed. Patients also experience a poor quality of life.

Candidates for this procedure are patients who have symptoms of heart failure, including shortness of breath, fatigue and decreased tolerance for exercise, and have met other criteria.

Barostim, created by Minneapolis-based medtech company CVRx, received FDA PMA approval in 2019 and is now commercially available to reduce the symptoms of heart failure for patients who are not indicated for cardiac resynchronization therapy and have a left ventricular ejection fraction of 35 percent or less.