My Extraordinary Care

My Extraordinary Care

Tyrone Brown

St. Catherine Hospital interventional cardiologist Dr. Samer
Abbas treated heart patient Tyrone Brown of Hammond,
with the lifesaving Impella device.

Tyrone Brown-

Hammond Resident

For Tyrone Brown the news that he had several blockages in his arteries was grim, especially after having endured triple bypass surgery just a few years ago.

“It really wasn’t looking good for me,” Brown said. “My outlook and survival wasn’t positive.  I was staring death in the face,” he said.

Another invasive heart surgery would be risky and even using a catheter to open the vessels was out of the question without a device to keep his weakened heart beating through the procedure. Typically, high-risk patients like Brown are left with medication as their only option.

"Those cases we were avoiding in the past," said interventional cardiologist Samer Abbas, M.D. of St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, who treated Brown.

But thanks to the Impella 2.5 pump, a cardiac assist device that can be implanted in the cardiac catheterization lab, Brown got a second chance.

Much like the heart and lung pump and left ventricular assist device that takes over the heart's function during open heart surgery, the Impella temporarily takes over the heart's pumping while the doctor works. This approach doesn't require an invasive surgery, which is often not possible with the most critically ill patients.

Through a small incision in the groin, the pencil-sized heart pump is advanced through the femoral artery to the aortic valve, where it bridges the left ventricle and the aorta, sucking blood from the ventricle and pushing it into the aorta, temporarily giving the weakened heart a rest from pumping and enabling doctors to perform lifesaving interventions, most notably in three scenarios—acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), severe heart failure (cardiogenic shock) and high-risk multi-vessel angioplasty.

"The Impella allows us to work with more time and in a more stable condition to open up arteries and restore blood flow in a minimally invasive way – through the skin," said Pastor Llobet, M.D., cardiologist.

The availability of the Impella in Northwest Indiana is exciting, Abbas said, especially given the increased need for high-risk interventions in an older population. Open heart surgery on an 85-year-old, for instance, is much riskier than for someone in their 60s, yet intervention during advanced age is becoming more common place, and now possible in cases where it wasn't previously.

"Now there are more options available," he said. "We can fix the harder to repair cases minimally with no open heart surgery."

“I am very thankful for Drs. Abbas and Llobet, the Cath Lab staff, St. Catherine Hospital and my second chance at life,” Brown said.

For more information about the Cardiovascular Service Center at St. Catherine Hospital, click here.