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Clinical trial uses 'zipper' to help heart beat

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 18:22:37-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's a simple hug that Betty Bradley shares with her daughter Kimberly, but it’s one that means the world. 

“It's been a long, hard journey,” Betty Bradley says. 

In 2015, her daughter Kimberley suffered a heart attack.

She was later air lifted to a hospital in Joplin, Missouri. 

“I didn't know if I was ever going to see my kids,” said Kimberley Bradley. 

“It involved the front part of the heart, which is the most important part of the heart,” said Dr. Andrew Kao, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s. 

Kimberley Bradley’s mother and four daughters were by her side the whole time. 

“They came every day,” Kimberley Bradley said.

With substantial damage, Bradley was left with heart failure.

“Which means the muscle is not squeezing enough blood,” Kao said. 

“I thought I was having panic attacks and it was like shortness of breath - I was sweating, my arms were hurting,” Kimberley Bradley said. 

She was later referred to Saint Luke’s heart failure program to be a part of a clinical trial.

Doctors say it essentially zippers off the portion of dead heart muscle.

“It used to be surgeons had to cut out the dead part of the heart and suture back, so this is a very quick way of collapsing the aneurysm on itself so it goes away and you never have to cut down the middle,” Kao said. 

At the end of March this year, Kimberley Bradley received that procedure called the less invasive ventricular enhancement, also known as LIVE.

She recently returned for her check-up, and she says she’s adjusting to her new normal of feeling better and spending time with her children. 

“Every day I feel better, I have more energy, I can get out there with them, you know? Stay up late and watch movies,” Bradley said with a smile.

The system is tested through the Alive clinical trial, enrolling 120 patients at roughly 20 clinical trial sites across the nation and in the U.K., one of which is Saint Luke’s.

Saint Luke’s is preparing this procedure on another patient in August. 

The clinical trial will eventually go up for review by the FDA.