HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — February is American Heart Month, and all this week CBS2 is taking an in-depth look at women’s heart health and bringing you stories to promote awareness of the leading cause of death in this country.
CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez’s latest report is on how heart pump technology gave a grandmother a new lease on life.READ MORE: 5 Heroes Honored For Lifting Car Off Baby Girl, Saving Mother In Yonkers Crash
“I got this fiery pain going down my arm, and I said to him, ‘Rub my back. It hurts,'” Maryann Lima said.
You don’t have to be a doctor to know, this sounds like a heart attack, but Lima, 69, still had to be convinced her condition was serious.
“We go to the doctor’s and they said, ‘You’re going to the hospital, immediately,'” Lima said.
“She came in with a heart attack, but was several days delayed,” said Dr. Kanika Mody, the medical director of the surgical VAD program at Hackensack Hospital.
That delay meant her heart muscle had been deprived of oxygen for days, which could have cost Maryann her life. However, Dr. Mody put her on a heart pump called the Impella.
“She beautifully responded, so basically it proved to us was her heart really needed the support,” Dr. Mody said.
The Impella pump works by drawing blood out of the heart and pushing it into the aorta.READ MORE: Officials Announce Plan To Preserve Crumbling BQE For Another 20 Years
“We can put this pump in and we have 97% survival, which is an amazing thing for a patient population that traditionally had 20-to-30% survival,” Dr. Mody said.
The Impella is meant to be a temporary device, allowing the heart to rest and the body to recover after a heart attack. A permanent option would be a heart transplant. Another is the Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD.
Maryann now has one that’s been surgically implanted.
Scott Stewart is the VAD coordinator at Hackensack. Gomez watched as he checked the LVAD output in Maryann’s device.
The following is how the pump works, internally: It’s attached to the aorta, where it aids the ventricle’s output and controls the blood flow. It’s powered by an external battery pack.
Maryann’s grandson, William Ruhne, plays a vital part in maintaining the pump.
“When you’re checking her blood pressure at home you want to make sure that it’s perfectly controlled and you’re going to call me if it’s above those numbers that we talked about,” Stewart instructed.
Making it to William’s middle school graduation is what motivated Maryann to get back to good health, and because of both pumps, she made it.MORE NEWS: New Jersey's Own Sydney McLaughlin Sets World Record In Winning 400-Meter Hurdles At Tokyo Olympics
The most important takeaway here is if you’re feeling symptoms, don’t wait. Go to the ER, Urgent Care, or your doctor right away.