Heart Failure :: Life-saving technology may address unique needs of women in heart failure

Contrary to popular wisdom, heart disease is not primarily a male disease, and is in fact statistically far more deadly when it occurs in women. Most women are not aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women, far greater than any other disease.

According to reports from the American Heart Association (AHA), women are 26% more likely than men to suffer heart failure and death as their first symptom of cardiac disease. Women also experience substantially different symptoms and warning signs than men.

Nonetheless, many treatment modalities currently available continue to focus primarily on men. Reflecting this inequity, cardiac support devices on the market today are primarily used in men, and are not designed to effectively serve the needs of many women. “This leaves women at a severe disadvantage,” explains Jeffrey Helfer, President of the Cardiovascular Division of Biophan Technologies, an innovative medical technology company that develops and markets cutting-edge technologies for the medical device industry. Biophan Technologies is working with MYOTECH LLC, a company developing a unique cardiac support technology.

As Helfer explains: “Women present with different types of heart failure than men, including 1.8 times greater prevalence of diastolic heart failure, and experience a greater rate of device-related complications than men. Also, because of their predominately smaller body sizes, women are often unable to benefit from existing cardiac support devices. With these limitations, women are often denied access to life saving therapy and are thus at greater risk of dying of heart failure.”

Helfer explains that current cardiac support devices typically help to empty blood from the heart (systolic actuation). With women in cardiac arrest, the problem can often be how the heart fills with blood (diastolic actuation). Unlike existing cardiac support devices, the MYOTECH technology provides complete pumping support, both filling and emptying, to both ventricles.

The life-saving technology Helfer and his team are developing is minimally invasive cardiac support technology that promises to more effectively treat heart failure in women as well as men, and less expensively than other devices currently available.

MYOTECH’s cardiac support technology, known as the MYOTECH cardiac support system, consists of a flexible polymer “cup” that is installed through a small incision in 2-3 minutes. It operates by compressing and expanding bi-directionally, enabling the cup to restore the input and output of blood to life-sustaining levels when the heart is unable to do so on its own. The device supplies the energy that allows a failing or arrested heart to resume pumping.

“Since it does not contact circulating blood, the device promises to significantly reduce the risk of clotting and stroke, bleeding, and infection, which are problems that plague existing devices,” Helfer explains. “These advantages are especially helpful for women in heart failure, because they experience a higher rate of device-related complications than do men.”

The simplicity and low cost of the MYOTECH cardiac support system enable the device to be installed by a general surgeon at any hospital which has an operating room, and at a fraction of the cost. Most existing circulatory support devices are only available at a very limited number of specialized transplant or cardiac centers.

“Our goal is to provide physicians with the capability to quickly restore cardiac function and blood flow to stabilize heart failure patients, and minimize damage to the heart and other organs, including the brain. This capability buys the precious time needed to accurately diagnose the patient’s condition and deliver the proper therapy,” says Helfer.

By designing the MYOTECH cardiac support system to meet the needs of women as effectively as it meets the needs of men, the new technology promises to be a lifesaving breakthrough for treating heart failure in all patients.

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