New ‘Life-Changing’ Heart Therapy Announced at Metro Hospital

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Heart patients, who before were told they had no options, now have a very promising one in a new therapy announced Wednesday by Mercy Medical Center and the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

"Being able to offer this lifesaving device to advanced heart failure patients in Central Iowa and across Iowa is a huge win for our state," said William Wikemeyer, M.D., an Iowa Heart Center cardiologist specializing in advanced heart failure. "We can prolong and improve the quality of life of patients who have no other options or are waiting for a transplant."

The new therapy is based on "LVAD technology", or a left ventricular assist device. For people waiting on a heart transplant, doctors say this technology acts as a "bridge" until an organ is available. For 68-year-old Des Moines man John Hilding, the new therapy has vastly improved his life. Hilding has congestive heart failure (CHF), and does not qualify for a transplant. In cases like his, the LVAD is what doctors call "destination therapy"; it improves his quality of life.

"My heart was down. I couldn't walk, I couldn't do nothing, hardly," Hilding said in a news conference.  "And so, I'm improving."

Doctors say the therapy varies in cost, depending on a patient's insurance, but say one could expect it to cost around the same as a heart transplant, though less expensive to maintain over time.

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