Living Well: Impella heart pump saves man’s life

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– While working on a roof in Camden, 60-year-old Mark Cook started to feel weak.

“Something I have never felt before. I knew something was wrong,” says Mark Cook. “It was just a tightness, discomfort, almost nauseating.”

Of all the days he was working, it just so happened Mark’s wife was there. She immediately rushed him to the emergency room where doctors found Mark was having a heart attack. They flew him to Baptist Health in Little Rock for treatment.

“They determined I was in carcinogenic shock and by then knew that I had the blockage in the artery,” says Cook.

The one device Interventional Cardiologist, Thomas Conley, turned to was the Impella heart pump.

“It circulates the blood for someone who’s heart is not capable of circulating it,” says Thomas Conley, Baptist Health Interventional Cardiologist.

It’s a small pump and it goes in through an artery in the leg or arm, passes up the aorta, goes around it and down into the heart. When you turn on the turbine, it circulates and basically sucks the blood out of the heart and ejects it through an exit port to circulate blood to the body.

“So you went from someone where you had less than 50/50 chance of living to where now you’ve got an 85 percent chance of walking out of the hospital. It’s pretty dramatic stuff,” says Dr. Conley.

The Impella heart pump has been used in Baptist Health for five years now, and it’s changing lives.

“The Impella made it possible for me to recover,” says Cook.

Mark says the fact this kind of technology exists is amazing. In fact, he went to an event at the hospital to learn more about the device that saved his life.

“I’m fascinated by it now because it happened to me,” says Cook.

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