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SLU Hospital first in the region to join new heart initiative

ST. LOUIS - SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital is first in the region to join a new national initiative for cardiac patients suffering from cardiogenic shock.

Cardiogenic shock is a life-threatening condition where the heart suddenly cannot pump enough blood through the body. It not only often leads to cardiac arrest, it leads to death in an estimated 50 percent of patients.

That’s why the National Cardiogenic Shock Initiative was developed by cardiologists at Henry Ford Medical Center in Detroit, MI -- as a collaboration between five different Detroit-area hospital systems with the goal of improving mortality in patients suffering from cardiogenic shock.

SLU Hospital joins the initiative after early data from Detroit shows survival rates have improved to 76 percent.

The 2016 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the heart pump Impella for the treatment of cardiogenic shock helped lead to this initiative. Impella is a heart pump percutaneously implanted by cardiologists for patients with a failing heart.

“At SLU, we were early adopters of the Impella device soon after it was introduced and participated in trials to investigate it,” says Michael Lim, MD, a cardiologist with SLUCare and SLU Hospital. “This experience translated into our facility becoming very comfortable with the device in many different patient conditions, including shock and cardiac arrest.”

That experience led to Impella being used for cardiogenic shock patients at SLU Hospital and in turn joining the National Cardiogenic Shock Initiative. Long-term, Dr. Lim would like to expand the practice across other hospitals in the St. Louis region like those in Detroit.

“Like many communities, there is great variability in the St. Louis region community in treating cardiogenic shock,” says Dr. Lim. “Interventional cardiologists have widely different practice patterns they are very attached to in how they treat patients, relying on comfort and experience.

“To really make an impact on the challenge of cardiogenic shock, we don’t see any other way but to get together with like-minded interventionalists and show this can make a difference.”

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