By Lucy Ashton
A new heart failure device aims to revolutionise treatment by allowing patients to receive hospital care from the comfort of their own home.
The device and drug combination, developed by SQ Innovation Inc (Burlington, MA, USA) is being tried out by Glasgow University Heart Failure Clinical Trial Team, supported by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Research Innovation and Pharmacy Teams, and will not only improve the lives of those requiring treatment is but will also help reduce the strain on hospital beds by removing the need for patients to spend up to 10 days in a ward.
Following a successful initial trial stage at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where NHS patients were the first in the world to be able to use the device and drug in a hospital environment, the treatment is moving into its second stage of trial which will allow patients to use the drug and device in their own homes.
Heart failure is a condition where the heart does not pump blood around the body as efficiently as it should and accounts for 180,000 annual NHS inpatient bed days. As a result, fluid often gathers in the lungs or legs, causing shortness of breath and/ or swollen legs. The SQ Innovation Inc device is fitted with a small needle, which delivers the new drug under the patient’s skin to help reduce fluid build-up.
Alex Miller, 64, was a patient who took part in the first stage of the trial, which is the first of its kind in Glasgow, and believes that it will improve the lives of patients who need it most. He said: “It was painless, after 10 or 15 minutes I forgot it was even attached. Non-intrusive, whereas previously it would take a lot of time and take up nurse’s times. The gadget did it all for me.
“I lost two stones (13kg) in weight over six days in hospital which was mostly fluid, which was causing me so much health issues. I couldn’t sleep lying down, I had a drowning sensation. The treatment was superb and being able to do that at home would free up hospital beds. I would be 100 per cent behind this to be used widely, if I started to build up fluid again I would happily use the advice at home. I can honestly say I thought it was a cracking piece of kit.”
Dr Joanna Osmanska, Clinical Research Fellow at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, was involved in treating the patients with the new device and drug. She said: “Our patients were impressed with how straightforward and intuitive the SQIN-pump is. This is a big step forward in our mission to improve life for patients with heart failure.”
Current treatment for heart failure involves giving medicines called diuretics, or ‘water tablets’, to make people pass more urine. For many people with heart failure, if there is a lot of swelling in their legs, the treatment has to happen in hospital with medication given intravenously through a drip.
Dr Ross Campbell, Consultant Cardiologist and principal investigator at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, where the trial was conducted said: “This trial has been an excellent example of the type of practice-changing clinical research that is possible within the NHS, in partnership with the University of Glasgow. More importantly, this work will allow us to progress to the next phase of the research programme, which will enable us to treat patients with heart failure in their own home. This is something that patients want, we have been unable to deliver in the past, and that the NHS needs at this extremely challenging time. ”