Heart device implants available in Brunei

National 2 minutes, 43 seconds


THE Ministry of Health (MoH) and Gleneagles JPMC has introduced left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implants, marking a significant milestone in the treatment of patients with heart failure.

During a press conference at Gleneagles JPMC yesterday, consultant cardiologist Dr Sofian Johar said they plan to perform around three to six mechanical heart device implantations over the year, following the first successful LVAD recently implanted on a heart disease patient in Brunei.

The device called Heartmate II helps to restore blood flow through the body, enabling severely ill patients to breathe more easily and feel less fatigued.

“Before this option was available, patients with severe heart failure could only be treated with lifestyle modification and medications or pacemaker/defibrillator devices, which were sometimes only partly successful. This device allows the patient to lead an almost normal life,” said Dr Sofian.

Heartmate II is approximately 7.5cm in length and weighs 200g with one moving part, a continuously spinning rotor that helps circulate the blood.

Placed below the diaphragm in the abdomen, the LVAD is attached to the left ventricle and the aorta. An external wearable system, placed under or over clothing, includes a small controller and two batteries attached by an external driveline.

Although expensive, JPMC executive director and medical director Dato Paduka Dr Hj Isham Jafaar said the mechanical heart device was more cost-effective compared to medications in the long run.

However, the LVAD implantations can only be performed on suitable candidates, requiring numerous tests on the patient including a right heart study and MRI of the heart. The patient, who is often severely ill, would also be screened by clinical psychologists and medical social workers.

As the device runs on rechargeable batteries, the patient’s house also needs to be inspected to ensure the electrical system and wiring is suitable.

Health Minister Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof highlighted that LVAD implants would significantly improve the quality of life of patients.

He said the introduction of the mechanical heart device in Brunei was part of the government’s efforts to save the lives of patients with heart failure.

An estimated 7,000 patients are suffering from heart failure in the country, where heart disease is the second leading cause of death after cancer. Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of heart failure, but other causes include heart muscle damage from infection or drug abuse.

The most common form of heart disease in Brunei is coronary artery disease, which refers to the blockage of the arteries supplying the heart.

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked, causing damage and death of heart muscle. Often, patients who survive a heart attack will subsequently suffer from heart failure as the heart can no longer pump as efficiently.

Patients with severe heart failure have been treated with medications to control fluid balance, strengthen the heart and treat underlying causes of the disease, such as hypertension.

More recently, however, mechanical heart devices have been implanted into patients with severe heart failure to assist the heart in its function of pumping blood. Brunei’s first LVAD was implanted on a heart disease patient on November 11.

The Brunei Times