Impella Pump Keeps Blood Flowing During Heart Procedure

December 13, 2022

Chuck Jenkins, 77, enjoyed spending time in the sunshine with his wife, children and grandchildren until he began to notice chest pain in December 2021. He could no longer do simple tasks without feeling discomfort.

After a visit with his physician, tests revealed that he had multiple blockages in the arteries of his heart. In fact, his left anterior descending artery (LAD) — commonly referred to as the “widow maker” — was 99% blocked in two places.

Dr. Rossi, Chuck Jenkins and his wifeHis cardiologist was unable to remove the blockages, so Chuck was referred to Dr. Jeffrey Rossi, interventional cardiologist at Bradenton Cardiology.

Dr. Rossi suggested a Protected Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) procedure using the Impella heart pump. During the stenting procedure — which involves the placement of a small tube in the artery to keep it open — the pump is used to temporarily assist the pumping function of the heart to ensure blood flow is maintained to critical organs. The pump is inserted into the blocked arteries through a small incision in the chest. The procedure is minimally invasive, which can lessen bleeding and pain, and speed recovery time for the patient.

“The Impella heart pump has been in use for about 10 years, and we started using it here at Manatee around five years ago,” said Dr. Rossi. It is recommended for people who have blockages in their heart arteries and/or have weak heart muscle function. Essentially, the pump takes over the work of pumping blood for the heart so that it can safely undergo a procedure, like Protected PCI. “It’s effective in helping patients recover from large heart attacks,” Dr. Rossi added. The pump is temporary, typically used as a bridge to recovery. In some cases, it’s also used for heart transplants. So far, Impella heart pumps have been implanted about 200 times at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

If not for the Impella heart pump and the Protected PCI procedure, many of these patients would begin treatment for palliative care and start taking medication that would be only partially effective.

In December 2021, Chuck proceeded with the Protected PCI procedure. He had two stents implanted to help avoid any future issues with his LAD. He spent one night in the hospital and was home with his family the following day. Shortly after, the Impella heart pump was removed. Chuck can now do anything a typical person his age can do.

He is immensely grateful to Dr. Rossi and all the Manatee medical staff who gave him back his life in the sun.