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Heart patient receives implant, finds hope

Oct 7, 2021, 11:00 AM
John Branstiter of Sedro-Woolley

John Branstiter of Sedro-Woolley credits Skagit Regional Health Cardiac Electrophysiologist Ramy Hanna, MD and the latest in implantable heart devices for saving his life.

Branstiter, 68, suffers from severe cardiomyopathy (heart muscle weakness). This condition is compounded by his extreme Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and surviving a heart attack in 2015. He found himself without the energy to perform nearly any activity. Branstiter said he was told he had lost a significant percent of his heart function in his left ventricle, one of four chambers in the heart.

“It was tough to do everything,” Branstiter said, noting he would easily grow short of breath and sweat after just a couple of minutes of a simple activity like vacuuming the floor. “It was unbelievable how quickly I wound down. I just had to sit down and take a rest.”

In 2016, he took a fall, shattered a hip and damaged a rotator cuff in his shoulder, which required surgeries. “That knocked me back,” he said.

The combination of healing from injuries and lack of heart function weighed heavily on him. He has always been an active person with a passion for boating and backpacking.

“I felt like I was just taking up space,” he said. “I just wanted to do more and it wasn’t there.”

Enter Dr. Hanna and the team at Skagit Regional Clinics – Cardiology. Dr. Hanna was familiar with Cardiac Contractility Modulation CCM™ therapy and had researched an implantable device called the Optimizer Smart™ from Impulse Dynamics.

“This option serves a unique population set who otherwise doesn’t have any option, other than pills – and we’ve gone down that road,” Dr. Hanna said of his patient. “It’s the only implant that has a hope of improving the heart function and how they feel.”

Hanna added that the implant is designed for people with low ejection fraction, like Branstiter, whose heart is simply not strong enough to pump blood normally to the body, Hanna said.

“It delivers precisely timed electrical impulses that the patient does not feel,” Dr. Hanna said. “It helps the heart squeeze harder.”

Branstiter’s road to receiving the implant was extended by a couple of years by insurance company denials. Approved by Medicare and the FDA, he finally received the go-ahead for the procedure from a new insurance company earlier this year and Dr. Hanna performed the implant in July 2021.

Similar to a pacemaker implant with two leads into the heart, the implant was placed in Branstiter’s chest in the cardiac electrophysiology lab at Skagit Valley Hospital. According to the manufacturer, Impulse Dynamics, it is the first procedure to place the Optimizer™ in Washington state.

At the time of the interview, Branstiter was 30 days post-procedure and feeling good, even taking a recent walk around the block.

“I feel like a totally new person; I have hope again,” Branstiter said. “I can’t believe the difference it’s done already.”

Branstiter recharges the device weekly, which takes about 30 minutes, and he otherwise “doesn’t feel a thing” as the device sends electrical signals to his heart.

“My outlook is totally changed. I owe it all to Dr. Hanna and his crew and everyone at Skagit Regional Health. Dr. Hanna is why I’m still alive today,” he said. “I’ve had people tell me they see a big difference. I’m a totally different person. I look better. My color is better. I sound better.”

Dr. Hanna said he expects continued positive results for Branstiter.

“My expectation for him is that he breathes more comfortably, has more energy and higher function,” Dr. Hanna said.

Branstiter had his sights set on working on his boat and a late summer road trip to Colorado with a brother to see some cousins and a few national parks.

“This has really given me hope,” he said. “Now, I have something to look forward to.”

PICTURED ABOVE: John Branstiter of Sedro-Woolley looks forward to returning to hobbies and activity after receiving an implanted device that helps his heart pump more effectively.

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Last post : 10/25/2021

Heart patient receives implant, finds hope

Oct 7, 2021, 11:00 AM
John Branstiter of Sedro-Woolley

John Branstiter of Sedro-Woolley credits Skagit Regional Health Cardiac Electrophysiologist Ramy Hanna, MD and the latest in implantable heart devices for saving his life.

Branstiter, 68, suffers from severe cardiomyopathy (heart muscle weakness). This condition is compounded by his extreme Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and surviving a heart attack in 2015. He found himself without the energy to perform nearly any activity. Branstiter said he was told he had lost a significant percent of his heart function in his left ventricle, one of four chambers in the heart.

“It was tough to do everything,” Branstiter said, noting he would easily grow short of breath and sweat after just a couple of minutes of a simple activity like vacuuming the floor. “It was unbelievable how quickly I wound down. I just had to sit down and take a rest.”

In 2016, he took a fall, shattered a hip and damaged a rotator cuff in his shoulder, which required surgeries. “That knocked me back,” he said.

The combination of healing from injuries and lack of heart function weighed heavily on him. He has always been an active person with a passion for boating and backpacking.

“I felt like I was just taking up space,” he said. “I just wanted to do more and it wasn’t there.”

Enter Dr. Hanna and the team at Skagit Regional Clinics – Cardiology. Dr. Hanna was familiar with Cardiac Contractility Modulation CCM™ therapy and had researched an implantable device called the Optimizer Smart™ from Impulse Dynamics.

“This option serves a unique population set who otherwise doesn’t have any option, other than pills – and we’ve gone down that road,” Dr. Hanna said of his patient. “It’s the only implant that has a hope of improving the heart function and how they feel.”

Hanna added that the implant is designed for people with low ejection fraction, like Branstiter, whose heart is simply not strong enough to pump blood normally to the body, Hanna said.

“It delivers precisely timed electrical impulses that the patient does not feel,” Dr. Hanna said. “It helps the heart squeeze harder.”

Branstiter’s road to receiving the implant was extended by a couple of years by insurance company denials. Approved by Medicare and the FDA, he finally received the go-ahead for the procedure from a new insurance company earlier this year and Dr. Hanna performed the implant in July 2021.

Similar to a pacemaker implant with two leads into the heart, the implant was placed in Branstiter’s chest in the cardiac electrophysiology lab at Skagit Valley Hospital. According to the manufacturer, Impulse Dynamics, it is the first procedure to place the Optimizer™ in Washington state.

At the time of the interview, Branstiter was 30 days post-procedure and feeling good, even taking a recent walk around the block.

“I feel like a totally new person; I have hope again,” Branstiter said. “I can’t believe the difference it’s done already.”

Branstiter recharges the device weekly, which takes about 30 minutes, and he otherwise “doesn’t feel a thing” as the device sends electrical signals to his heart.

“My outlook is totally changed. I owe it all to Dr. Hanna and his crew and everyone at Skagit Regional Health. Dr. Hanna is why I’m still alive today,” he said. “I’ve had people tell me they see a big difference. I’m a totally different person. I look better. My color is better. I sound better.”

Dr. Hanna said he expects continued positive results for Branstiter.

“My expectation for him is that he breathes more comfortably, has more energy and higher function,” Dr. Hanna said.

Branstiter had his sights set on working on his boat and a late summer road trip to Colorado with a brother to see some cousins and a few national parks.

“This has really given me hope,” he said. “Now, I have something to look forward to.”

PICTURED ABOVE: John Branstiter of Sedro-Woolley looks forward to returning to hobbies and activity after receiving an implanted device that helps his heart pump more effectively.