WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The world's smallest heart pump is changing how cardiologists do their jobs in eastern Iowa.
In Health Plus, Tara Thomas explains why the equipment is saving lives at Waterloo's Covenant Medical Center.
At Waterloo's Covenant Medical Center, Doctor Richard Valente is a cardiologist working with the world's smallest heart pump.
Only 5-hundred hospitals nationwide are using the impella device that temporarily relieves the heart's pumping function to allow for life-saving procedures.
"This allows us to do even the sickest patients with heart blockage to make their hearts stronger and makes it very safe," said Dr. Richard valente, a Covenant cardiologist.
Approved by the FDA in 2008, the pump is so small open heart surgery can be avoided.
"It's minimally-invasive so they don't have to have their chest cut open to put it in. It simply goes through the groin just like an angiogram," said Jo Kajewski, a representative for maker Abiomed.
"Literally we take the device out, close up the artery and the patient's home the next day. It's a very simple procedure to put the device in and take the device out," said Valente.
For high risk patients the pump can green light procedures that would have been too risky before.
"This allows them to do interventions on them that normally either surgeons may have turned down because their heart's too sick. They don't want to do the intervention because their heart doesn't pump enough blood to get them through the procedure," said Kajewski.
Covenant is the first hospital in the Cedar Valley to use the new heart pump.
Tara Thomas: Online reporter/News anchor