Impella heart pump needed for extra heart help

Jack Sutherland is taking steps to get back to normal physical activity.

Jack Sutherland lives in Charlevoix, but he's been traveling to Traverse City often lately to see the heart specialists at Munson Medical Center.

"I just feel safe here, I feel makes you feel good to be taken care of by some of the best," Sutherland said.

Jack loves to go golfing and watch his kids play sports. He worked in a physically demanding job at a fishery in Charlevoix, but he had to slow down after a history of heart problems including a heart attack and a quadruple bypass.

"It was determined that the bypass out of the 4, there was only 1 working so Dr. Clayton did an angioplasty with the Impella pump," Sutherland said.

The device used for Jack's case, called the Impella pump, helps out heart muscles that have weakened. Although Jack is from Charlevoix, he commutes to Munson where Dr. Kevin Clayton is Jack's cardiologist.

"So the Impella heart device is a small pump that we are able to insert generally from an artery down in the groin and put it in the heart- in a person who can still sit there talking to us and the pump is used to offload the heart, is used in those patients who have...a weak heart muscle and they need extra support," Clayton said.

More than half of patients who need the pump are emergent and the rest are still considered high risk. The pump is often used during surgeries performed after a patient has a heart attack.

"We would put the pump in immediately to help the heart do its work, provides extra flow to the body and then that allows us time to go take care of the problem like the blocked artery or whats causing the heart attack," Clayton said.

That extra flow is needed to support other organs when the heart is having trouble on its own and gives doctors more time to find a more permanent solution.

"This pump is able to supply extra to pumping function, take some of the work off the heart and allow us to do other things to get the patient stabilized to help the heart recover its own function," Clayton said.

Now Jack is on his way to being active like he was before and he's looking forward to warmer weather so he can get back out on the green.

"I'm just waiting for this weather to break so I can go golfing," Sutherland said.

As part of National Heart Month, Munson Medical Center is offering one-on-one cardiovascular risk evaluations this week. For more information on those heart screenings and the Impella heart pump, you can visit Munson's website.

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