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Heart Hospital of Austin Physician First in Texas to Implant New Heart Failure Device

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On November 30, 2011, a physician at Heart Hospital of Austin became the first in Texas to implant the Unify Quadra cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) and Quartet® Left Ventricular Quadripolar Pacing Lead. The new pacing technology, developed by St. Jude Medical, offers additional pacing options that can reduce the need for reoperation to reposition a lead. This new technology offers physicians the ability to more efficiently and effectively manage the individualized needs of patients with heart failure.

David R. Tschopp, M.D., director of electrophysiology at Heart Hospital of Austin, implanted the Unify Quadra quadripolar pacing system to regulate and resynchronize the heartbeat of a heart failure patient. The patient was diagnosed with non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition resulting in decreased blood supply due to the heart's main pumping chamber—the left ventricle—being enlarged, dilated and weak. Unify Quadra was determined to be the best fit because of the patient's condition and the device's ability to optimize the delivery of therapy.  The procedure was performed at Heart Hospital of Austin.

"This technology is the industry's first quadripolar pacing system, and the Heart Hospital of Austin is proud to be among the first hospitals in the country to implant this state-of-the-art device," Dr. Tschopp said. "We are committed to providing our patients with smart technology that will help improve their quality of life. We recognize the advancements found in St. Jude Medical's latest CRT device and are excited to have the Unify Quadra as an option for our patients."

CRT-Ds, such as the Unify Quadra CRT-D, are designed to optimize the heart's pumping function and help the heart perform in its most natural state by synchronizing the left and right ventricles of the heart through timed electrical pulses.

The Quartet lead features four electrodes on a single, left-ventricular lead (or wire) instead of the current industry standard of two electrodes on a bipolar lead. The additional electrodes provide more ways for a physician to configure an optimal pacing strategy while still implanting the lead in the most stable position. Ultimately, having four electrodes provides more options to effectively regulate the patient's heartbeat.

Patients receiving St. Jude Medical's Unify Quadra at the Heart Hospital of Austin can feel more confident in their procedure knowing that the device has more pacing options to reduce the chance of reoperation to manually reposition the lead. Due to differences in individual patient anatomy, or results that cannot be seen until the procedure is complete, complications can arise after placing the lead of a CRT device. The Quartet lead's four electrodes can help avoid these complications by providing physicians more options to pace in additional configurations.

One example of a pacing complication is a high pacing threshold. Patients who already have scar tissue formed in the heart, possibly as a result of a previous heart attack, may require additional energy from their CRT device, which can wear out the battery more quickly. Another complication that can result is the unintentional stimulation of the diaphragm or the heart's phrenic nerve, which results in hiccup-like symptoms. In both cases, without the ability to select different pacing locations, additional surgery may be needed to reposition the lead wire and repair the electrical stimulation the device provides.

Approximately 10 percent of patients experience pacing-related lead complications, and approximately 5 percent require surgical revision. The quadripolar pacing system available in the Unify Quadra CRT-D is expected to become an industry standard as a result of its ability to reduce the impact of these complications on the health care system due to the many health and economic benefits it can provide. The many benefits of the Quartet lead's unconventional pacing have been demonstrated by implanters around the world and reported in a number of published studies.

About Leads
A lead is a long insulated wire that serves as a conduit between an implanted device and the heart. The lead sends electrical signals from the device to the heart to provide therapy needed to address abnormal heart rhythms. The lead also carries information from the heart back to the implanted device, where the data can be used by the device to deliver therapy or make automatic adjustments, and used by physicians to determine optimal device settings and therapies for each patient.

About CRT
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), which can be delivered by an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or a pacemaker, resynchronizes the beating of the heart's lower chambers (ventricles). Studies have shown that CRT can improve the quality of life for many patients with heart failure, a progressive condition in which the heart weakens and loses its ability to pump an adequate supply of blood. Approximately 23 million people worldwide are afflicted with congestive heart failure (CHF), and 2 million new cases of CHF are diagnosed each year worldwide.

Heart Hospital of Austin
Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, Heart Hospital of Austin is a shared vision of local cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons. Working with hospital leadership, the physicians created an atmosphere of quality, resulting in the leading cardiac program in Texas for six consecutive years as ranked by HealthGrades®—a leading independent health ratings organization. In July 2009, a study funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed that Heart Hospital of Austin was the leading hospital in the United States for treatment of a heart attack. Heart Hospital of Austin has also been named a top cardiovascular hospital in the nation by Thomson Reuters for six years, most recently being named to the list of 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals in 2011. In addition to providing a full range of cardiovascular services and an advanced Executive Wellness Program, Heart Hospital of Austin has a comprehensive 24-hour emergency department. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:
Erin Ochoa and Kristin Marcum
Elizabeth Christian & Associates Public Relations

SOURCE Heart Hospital of Austin
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