World’s Smallest Heart Pump Saves Heart Attack Patients

Heart attack survivor, Rick McCormick, is alive today because of a tiny heart pump known as the Impella. McCormick’s physician, Nandish Thukral, MD, performed this procedure, which is a catheter-based heart pump that pulls blood from the left ventricle through an inlet area near the tip and expels blood from the catheter into the ascending aorta. The pump can be inserted via a standard catheterization procedure (in the cath lab) through the femoral artery in the leg, into the ascending aorta, across the valve and into the left ventricle.

“This minimally-invasive procedure can be used on some of the sickest of patients without having to open up their chests,” explains Thukral. “The San Antonio community deserves the best therapies available,” he said.

The Impella heart pump can be used during elective and urgent high risk coronary interventions. The device moves 2.5 liters of blood per minute, assisting the left ventricle during procedures involving temporary coronary blockages that would otherwise be too taxing on the already weak heart.

The tiny Impella is intended for up to six hours of use, but the indication allows the clinical team to decide to keep the patient on it for longer.