Research at the University of Maryland Heart Center continues to advance medical and surgical therapies for heart failure and other cardiac disorders. New heart failure treatments being investigated and used at the Heart Center include:
Telemonitoring: Through a demonstration grant from Medicare, University
of Maryland Heart Center physicians are testing whether home monitoring of heart
failure is successful in preventing hospitalizations and improving quality of
life. Patients are given home monitoring units, such as scales and blood pressure
cuffs. The results from the readings are sent directly by modem to a server
at the University of Maryland.
New Medications for Heart Failure: The Heart Failure Program uses investigational drugs that address important problems for patients with advanced heart failure. These drugs may improve the kidney problems, anemia, and depression commonly seen in heart failure patients. Medications to help the heart contract better are also being investigated.
Genomics: At the genomic level, University of Maryland Heart Center researchers are investigating how migrating adult stem cells have the potential to target damaged areas of the heart and create homes. These cells could then take over the function of the damaged muscle. This type of research will help set the standard for the future of cardiac care.
Sleep Monitoring: Many patients with heart failure also experience sleep disturbances. Maryland Heart Center physicians montior and evaluate patients in the University of Maryland Sleep Center and make recommendations for appropriate treatment to minimize these disturbances.
Mechanical Circulatory Support Devices (Ventricular Assist Devices): Maryland Heart Center physicians have extensive experience placing and managing left ventricular and bi-ventricular assist devices. These devices include Jarvik 200, Abiodmed, Thoratec and Novacor Left and Bi-ventricular Assist Devices (LVAD).The University of Maryland Medical Center was the first on the East Coast and only the third Medical Center nationwide to implant the Jarvik 2000 heart pump, a thumb-sized, battery-powered heart pump. The pump, which complements the heart's function instead of replacing it, was implanted in two heart failure patients at the Medical Center. The patients, Woodrow Snelson and Ronald Smith, were the first two in the U.S. to be discharged home while awaiting their new hearts.
The Jarvik 2000 is one of several left ventricular assist devices available at the University of Maryland, which serve as a "bridge to transplant" in patients who would otherwise die before a new heart becomes available. Maryland Heart Center physicians are studying whether the Jarvik 2000 pump and other mechanical circulatory support devices are appropriate for long-term use, as "destination therapy." Patients who are not good candidates for transplant because of renal insufficiency, diabetes or conditions worsened by immunosuppressant drugs may be study candidates.
Heart pumps bridge the time until a patient can have a transplant and have been found to reverse the course of heart failure. Recognizing the scarcity of donor hearts, our surgeons are optimistic that, in time, these mechanical devices will become permanent, giving patients who are not candidates for transplants a normal life.
ACORN CorCap: University of Maryland physicians are evaluating the ACORN CorCap, a mesh bag placed over an enlarged heart. The mesh prevents the heart from enlarging, improves the heart's function and may help the heart revert toward normal. This approach is being evaluated in patients with less severe heart failure. The ACORN is not for people who are going to need a transplant; its purpose is to keep them from needing one.