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Health Beat: Getting on your nerves to save your heart

Health Beat: Getting on your nerves to save your heart

ORLANDO, Fla. - Heart failure is the fastest growing cardiovascular disorder in the United States, affecting more than six million people. It occurs when a person's heart is too weak to pump and circulate blood in the body. A new device that gets on your nerves could, however, help save those with heart failure.

For years, taking a walk was a tough task for Laquita Fossitt.

"I just felt out of breath, tired, and weak," Fossitt said.

At age 35, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Two decades later, she was told she needed a transplant.

"Some days I didn't even want to get up," Fossitt explained, but thanks to a new nerve stimulation device for the heart, she has a new option.

"I think it's a very promising therapy," said Dr. Kishore Ranadive, cardiologist, Orlando Heart Specialists.

Ranadive said the CardioFit device helps the nervous system come into balance, which is needed to regulate the heart.

"The device is to kind of optimize that system by stimulating the nerve in the neck," Ranadive said.

The device is implanted in the chest and consists of a sensor lead that monitors changes in the heart and a stimulation lead that's attached to the vagus nerve.

"We slowly increase the current based on the response to the heart rate," Ranadive said.

It helps patients improve their symptoms. Five months post-surgery, Fossitt is up doing things she couldn't do before.

"It has gotten better," Fossitt explained.

Patients take anywhere from six to 12 weeks to respond to treatment.

CardioFit is already approved in Europe. In the U.S., a multi-center clinical trial is currently recruiting patients.

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