Research gets to the heart of the matter

18 January 2022

(Southern Health News, December 2021)

Is a tiny, hourglass-shaped device the key to helping patients with congestive heart failure?

A new study at Flinders Medical Centre aims to find out.

Led by FMC Interventional Cardiologist Associate Professor Ajay Sinhal, the SA-first study is investigating whether a cardiac procedure using the V-Wave Interatrial Shunt device can improve blood flow in symptoms of patients with congestive heart failure.

Congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. As a result, pressure rises in both the left side of the heart and the lungs.

These pressure increases may cause shortness of breath, fatigue or tiredness, and difficulties in performing daily activities. A heart failure patient may experience these symptoms, as well as fluid retention in the lungs and swelling in the feet, ankles, or abdomen, which may lead to hospitalisations for worsening heart failure.

How it works

The V-Wave Interatrial Shunt is a tiny, hourglassshaped device with a very small channel that allows blood to flow from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart. The shunt is implanted using a catheter – a thin, long plastic tube inserted through a small incision in a vein in the groin and then advanced into the heart.

The shunt is then implanted across the interatrial septum, which separates the left atrium and the right atrium of the heart.

As pressure rises in the left atrium, the V-Wave Interatrial Shunt is designed to allow a small amount of blood to flow from the left atrium to the right atrium, thereby lowering pressure in the left side of the heart and lungs.

Interested in joining the study?

Flinders Medical Centre is currently enrolling patients into the RELIEVE-HF study.

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, you may be eligible for the RELIEVE-HF research study, which is assessing the V-Wave Interatrial Shunt therapy.

To learn more, call Flinders Cardiology Research on 8204 4440.

A/Prof Sinhal said the study was exciting, and aimed to get people with congestive heart failure back to their everyday life.

“The ultimate aim of the study is to help patients feel better, stay out of the hospital and resume daily activities,” he said.