Heart op joy for ‘bionic man’ John

John Oates (centre) with Paula Black and members of the team who fitted the CardioFit device (below).
John Oates (centre) with Paula Black and members of the team who fitted the CardioFit device (below).

A patient has hailed a life-changing operation after becoming the first person in the North West to undergo pioneering heart failure treatment.

John Oates, 63, is the first patient in the region to be given the CardioFit device as part of the pioneering ‘Inovate-Hf’ research project at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

CardioFIT device fitted for John Oates from Cleveleys

CardioFIT device fitted for John Oates from Cleveleys

The CardioFit device is designed to increase the effect of the body’s parasympathetic nervous system.

The device calms the heart rate down so it can pump blood more effectively.

Mr Oates, who lives in Cleveleys, said: “It has been an excellent experience so far.

“I have a pacemaker on my left hand side and the CardioFit device on my right hand side – I’m a bionic man!

“Since I’ve had the device in, it’s been fine. I was allowed home the following day.

“I am hoping my quality of life will improve significantly.”

The device has a ‘stimulator’, similar to a pacemaker, which is implanted in skin under the upper chest.

A ‘stimulation lead’ – a flexible insulated wire – transmits electrical signals from the stimulator to the vagus nerve in the patient’s neck.

The stimulator also has a standard pacemaker lead which is passed through a vein into the lower chamber of the heart. It is connected to the stimulator and senses the heartbeat.

Mr Oates’ treatment comes 10 years after his first heart attack in 2005 when he was on holiday in Spain. He had a quadruple heart bypass in Spain and returned to the UK for further treatment.

At the time John was living in Manchester with his wife Margaret. They moved to Blackpool and since then John has been cared for at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre, where the surgery took place last month.

He said: “A member of the heart failure team thought I would be a suitable person for the CardioFit study.

“It had never been done here before. The first thing I did was look on the internet. It seemed quite interesting and positive. Anything that can improve your quality of life is worth trying. I feel lucky to be on this trial.”

Dr Alison Seed, consultant cardiologist with a Special Interest in Heart Failure, is leading the Inovate-Hf project in Blackpool.

Dr Seed said the project is one of 10 randomised studies in the UK which have the potential to radically transform the treatment of heart failure – one of the fastest growing cardiovascular disorders in the UK.

It is hoped that many more patients like John will choose to participate in the pioneering study.

Dr Seed explained: “While patients with heart failure often develop significant symptoms, limiting their exercise tolerance and seriously affecting their quality of life as a result of the heart’s inability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, it is a condition that we are now able to control for the vast majority of patients.

“By coming to a cardiac centre like ours you can be sure you’re being considered for cutting-edge treatment.”

Paula Black, cardiac research nurse, added: “It’s fantastic to see John doing so well.

“We are trying to make research part of everyday practice so all patients understand that if there is a study they will be offered the opportunity to take part.

“If the CardioFit device proves to be beneficial, hopefully it will be offered to everybody who needs it.”