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Small Heart Pump at Harlingen Medical Center Gives Patients the Support They Need to Live

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Small Heart Pump at Harlingen Medical Center Gives Patients the Support They Need to Live

Dr. Eduardo Flores,Interventional Cardiologist and his team

Harlingen – He is feeling well and enjoying the company of his family today. But, up until late last week, Guadalupe Hernandez, 87, of Santa Rosa, was not doing, nor functioning, very well. The husband, father and grandfather was experiencing chest pain and other symptoms that come with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). His age and medical condition did not make him an ideal candidate for open heart surgery, but, it did make him an ideal candidate for the Impella® 2.5 Catheter, the world's smallest heart pump, now available at one of the leading heart hospitals in South Texas, Harlingen Medical Center.

"I am very grateful that this [cardiac procedure] is available right here, near our home," said Cristina Hernandez, daughter of Hernandez, the Impella® 2.5 Catheter recipient. "From what I understand this is a highly advanced procedure and I was not aware that this was available in Harlingen. But, I'm glad to now know that it is and it can help people, like my father."

"Mr. Hernandez is the first patient to reap the benefits of the Impella® 2.5 Catheter, here, at Harlingen Medical Center," said Dr. Eduardo Flores, the Interventional Cardiologist, and Partner-In-Care to Harlingen Medical Center, who performed the procedure at the hospital's Catheterization Laboratory. "He was a patient who had a weak heart and had blockages in two arteries, one in the front of the heart, and another in the back of the heart. So, he would require the implementation of two promus premiere drug eluding stents. But, first, I had to stabilize his heart and its ability to function. And, that's where the Impella came in."

The medical state in which Hernandez found himself was not prime condition for a patient to undergo open heart surgery. The risks were too high. So, Dr. Flores spoke to Hernandez' family about the Impella® 2.5 Catheter as an option.

According Abiomed, Inc., the Impella® 2.5 Catheter is an intravascular microaxial blood pump that is designed to support a patient's circulatory system, or blood flow, when the heart is too weak or damaged to function properly on its own. The heart pump replicates the natural function of the heart by creating a vortex, moving blood from the heart and out into the rest of the body, thus creating an increased cardiac output.

The Impella® 2.5 Catheter, also called a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), is housed inside a catheter which is inserted through an artery in the leg, moved up toward the chest, and placed inside the left chamber of the heart within a few minutes.

"Once I placed the Impella® 2.5 Catheter in his heart, I was able to stabilize his blood pressure, give his heart support with the pump, and move forward with the high-risk, complex angioplasty," said Dr. Flores. "The heart pump allowed me to insert the drug-coated stents into the two blocked arteries allowing for blood circulation in and out of his heart, helping us avoid open heart surgery all together."

Once it was established that the circulation of blood through the treated arteries was rectified, the Impella® 2.5 Catheter was removed.

"I feel really well," said Mr. Hernandez when asked about his state of being, after the procedure. "I am very grateful to Dr. Flores for not only improving my life, but for probably saving my life too. I am very happy."

The Catheterization Laboratory at Harlingen Medical Center is currently the only one in the City of Harlingen to utilize the Impella® 2.5 Catheter.

About the Heart Program at HMC

The Heart Program at Harlingen Medical Center is paving the way for progressive treatment of patients from across South Texas, and beyond. The award-winning and nationally recognized hospital specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It features a top-ranked heart team that provides minimally-invasive diagnostic testing and treatment, as well as advanced cardiac and vascular interventions, such as angioplasty, stenting, cardiac ablation, open heart surgery, minimally invasive heart valve repair and replacement, and coronary artery bypass graft.

To learn more about this program and Harlingen Medical Center, log on to our website at