Patient Stories

Breathing Easier With Advanced Technology

Breathing Easier With Advanced Technology

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Jesus’ LVAD Implant for Heart Failure

Jesus Garcia was having trouble breathing. He was feeling pain in his chest. He went to one hospital’s emergency department, but he was sent home. He returned to the same hospital the same day and still did not get the help he needed. When a third episode struck, he told his wife he was going to a different hospital – Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

“They took me right away,” he said, adding he was quickly moved from the Emergency Department to an inpatient cardiac floor. “I couldn’t breathe. It was awful.”

Jesus’ third trip to the hospital and his quest for a second opinion led him to become the first patient in Illinois to receive the HeartMate 3 LVAD (left ventricular assist device). The HeartMate 3 is new technology to treat patients with advanced heart failure who are in need of short-term cardiac support while they await further treatment. When implanted, the device helps the weakened heart pump blood through the body and reduces trauma to blood passing through it.

Immediate improvement

Jesus’ LVAD was implanted by Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Cardiac Surgeon Duc Thinh Pham, MD. “This type of revolutionary technology has truly improved quality of life for patients like Mr. Garcia who are suffering from advanced heart failure,” said Dr. Pham, who is also an associate professor of surgery – cardiac surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The benefits to patients like him are almost instantaneous and allow us to work with him on a long-term plan for recovery.”

Jesus, a married father of four, will use the LVAD until he receives a heart transplant. He reported that his quality of life improved immediately after the device was implanted. “I can breathe better,” he said a few days after the surgery. “I am getting not just my health but my life back.”

Anchored by the No. 1 hospital in the nation for heart failure survival by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Northwestern Medicine’s integrated health system is on a relentless pursuit of better healthcare.

Jesus is one of 5.7 million people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with heart failure. Approximately 960,000 new cases of heart failure are diagnosed each year. Recognizing heart failure as one of the gravest public health threats, Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute prioritized treatment of the disease, creating a Bridge and Transition, or BAT team, to help ensure patients receive proper treatment, care and follow-up, from diagnosis to discharge and beyond.

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