Revolutionizing Veteran Care: Iowa City VA Health Care System Introduces Cutting-Edge Treatment For Heart Failure | VA Iowa City Health Care

Iowa City VA Health Care System (ICVAHCS) now provides a select group of heart failure patients with a new, minimally invasive, treatment option called Cardiac Contractility Modulation (CCM).

The device can treat patients experiencing moderate to severe congestive heart failure symptoms. The pacemaker-like device delivers precisely timed cardiac contractility modulation which are electric pulses, to increase the strength of ventricular contraction. These pulses are sent to the heart muscle for a total of 5-7 hours a day, in one-hour treatments. 

Technology has come a long way since the first pacemaker was invented in the 1950’s. For example, the first pacemaker was the size of a television and had to be plugged into the wall to receive data. Fast forward nearly a century later, and pacemakers are as small as a half-dollar coin and have an internal battery that connects to another device, sending out real time data, similar to how your phone connects to a Bluetooth speaker. So, what is the difference between a pacemaker and a CCM? The answer lies within the rhythms of the electrical stimulation provided. The aim of a CCM is to enhance the heart’s natural contraction over a long period of time, whereas the pacemaker is designed to maintain an adequate heart rate. Doctors say the CCM therapy will make physical activities easier by reducing the need to rest. 

“By stimulating contraction of the heart muscle at multiple points, the device will improve heart function in patients who have severe heart failure and are not responding to other treatments,” said Chief of Cardiology, Dr. Kartik Mani. 

Dr. Mani says patients undergoing CCM therapy will have follow-ups in the clinic by a nurse practitioner to monitor results and functionality of the device. In the past, ICVAHCS would’ve sent these patients to non-VA providers continuing to serve Veterans at the ICVAHCS, staff hopes to see cost savings, decrease ER visits, and decrease clinic visits and hospitalization. 

CCM is just one of the many things being done, both procedural and non-procedural, to keep care for our nation’s heroes in the VA. Other efforts from cardiology include a larger focus on getting a cardiac MRI program running, working with leadership to expand echocardiography programs to the CBOCs in Quincy and Davenport. 

For more information about our cardiology team and services offered by the ICVAHCS, please email [email protected].

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