YOUR HEALTH: Draining fluids for a stronger heart

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – 61-year old Ray Rozelle has had more energy in the past few months than he has in years.

He was often out of breath and weak.

"I usually help give out produce from the food pantry and it got to the point where I couldn't unload the trucks," he recalled.

Ray put off seeing a doctor until his daughter Ebony insisted he go.

Ray remembers what she once told him:

"I'm not married. I want my father to walk me down the aisle and right now you don`t look like you`re going to be able to do that.  So let's go get it taken care of."

Cardiologist Sitaramesh Emani diagnosed Ray with heart failure.

A long history of heart disease left Ray's heart unable to move blood to his kidneys.    His system was filled with fluid.

Doctor Emani asked if Ray would be willing to be the first in the U-S to test a new treatment.  Doctors started by inserting a catheter in the large vein in Ray's neck.

"Through a series of special first small needles and then wires, we place the catheter into the vein and position it such that it surrounds the main lymphatic vessel," explained Dr. Emani of Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

The catheter is hooked up to a console that allows blood to be pumped out of the body and then circulated back in.  Extra fluid goes out through the kidneys.

"We saw improvements within the first thirty minutes," said Dr. Ermani.

Ray was connected to the machine for 12 hours.

The current treatment for heart failure is diuretic medication, but doctors say diuretics sometimes only provide partial relief.

Ray says he feels blessed he had the chance to be a medical groundbreaker.

"This will help somebody else," he said

"And with that being said, I couldn't help but do it."

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new trial procedure involves inserting a specially designed catheter to improve the flow of fluid from the lymphatic system. Lymphatic vessels help remove fluid from the tissue and return it to the body`s circulatory system, and then excess fluid is eliminated by the kidneys. The lymphatic system typically drains up to two gallons of fluid per day. When someone has congestive heart failure, this liquid builds up in other areas of the body. The catheter is placed in the neck in a catheterization lab, and treatment occurs bedside using a machine that helps circulate the blood. This new approach can more efficiently and effectively treat patients, improving their quality of life and possibly reduce future re-hospitalizations.

Since heart failure is a chronic disease, it requires lifelong management.  With treatment, symptoms can improve and sometimes the heart does become stronger. Doctors can sometimes correct heat failure by treating the underlying cause, such as controlling a fast heart rhythm or repairing a valve; however for most, it involves several medications and in some cases the use of devices that help the heart contract properly.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.comor Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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