New Heart Failure Technology Tested at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit is First in U.S.

Cardiologists at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are the first in the U.S. and second in the world to implant a circulatory support device in the clinical trial stage to treat patients hospitalized with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) and worsening kidney function, known as cardiorenal syndrome.
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Henry Ford Hospital
Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit is the first in the U.S. to test a new heart failure technology. // Courtesy of Henry Ford Health System

Cardiologists at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are the first in the U.S. and second in the world to implant a circulatory support device in the clinical trial stage to treat patients hospitalized with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) and worsening kidney function, known as cardiorenal syndrome.

The pump — currently being evaluated in the United States and Australia, the Aortix System from Procyrion Inc. is an intra-aortic axial flow device, inserted via a femoral catheter into the descending aorta. Smaller than a number 2 pencil, it is designed to relieve some of the heart’s workload, allowing for better recovery and increased blood flow to the kidneys.

“When a patient is suffering from ADHF, the amount of blood the heart pumps to the kidneys may be insufficient for the kidneys to work at full capacity,” says Gillian Grafton, D.O., an advanced heart failure and critical care cardiologist, and co-principal investigator of the trial at Henry Ford. “The kidneys are responsible for maintaining the fluid balance that keeps heart failure congestion in check. Heart failure by itself is a chronic and progressive condition, but the additional complication of reduced kidney function can significantly worsen a patient’s condition.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart failure impacts around 6.2 million Americans. It accounted for 379,800 death certificates filed in 2018, or 13.4 percent of total certificates from that year.

ADHF occurs when the body is compensating for a weakened heart, narrowing blood vessels to keep blood pressure up, and diverting blood flow from the kidney — which causes cardiorenal syndrome — and even the brain.

The only U.S. institution to take part in the test, the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) was founded in 1915 by Henry Ford with the goal of improving people’s lives through excellence in healthcare. The HFHS annually trains over 3,000 medical students and employs more than 33,000 people.

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