Dr. Robert Styperek Performs Groundbreaking Heart Procedure

Harbin Clinic Cardiologist Dr. Robert Styperek is the first physician in Georgia to perform a groundbreaking heart implant procedure. The small implant is designed to treat a specific class of heart failure patients that historically haven’t had many options. The new technology brings more advanced and comprehensive heart care to the patients of northwest Georgia.  

The revolutionary implant device enhances muscle contraction of the heart and pumps more oxygen-rich blood through the body. This allows patients to experience fewer heart failure symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath and swelling in the legs. Additionally, the device is the first-of-its-kind to manage heart function for a group of heart failure patients who don’t typically qualify for resynchronization devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators. 

“There’s a category of patients we haven’t been able to address in the past because there wasn’t the technology,” says Dr. Styperek. “The Optimizer Smart System is a novel therapy of heart failure management for patients with an ejection fraction (EF) between 25 to 45 percent. This minimally invasive procedure reduces heart failure symptoms through cardiac contractility modulation (CCM) therapy and opens the doors for them to actively engage in normal life activities.” 

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle weakens and is unable to provide the body with the blood it needs to function normally. Ejection fraction (EF) is the percentage of how much blood leaves the heart with each contraction and is commonly used to measure heart failure. While the average healthy person has an EF between 55 and 65 percent, individuals with heart failure usually exhibit an EF between 25 and 45 percent.

Medications are regularly used to slow the progression of heart failure and manage patients’ symptoms, but medications aren’t always enough to delay heart failure. Additionally, medications can lose their effectiveness over time, and the patients’ quality of life can continue to decline. 

Unlike a pacemaker, which regulates the heart’s rhythm and helps synchronize contractions, the Optimizer Smart System device sends electrical impulses in synchronization with the heartbeat’s natural cycle. This is known as cardiac contractility modulation (CCM) therapy, and over time,  this device can improve the size, shape and function of the heart. 

“This is a unique heart failure therapy for NYHA Class III (a classification of heart severity symptoms) heart failure patients,” explains Dr. Styperek. “The Optimizer device can improve symptoms of heart failure by emitting precisely timed energy surges to the heart that help the muscle contract. Where there were no options before, we can now provide comprehensive and innovative care to our community.” 

Similar to the size of a pacemaker, the Optimizer is implanted under the skin of the upper chest through a minimally invasive procedure. Electrical leads are placed in the heart’s right ventricle through the veins, and the Optimizer sends calibrated electrical pulses to the heart muscle during one-hour treatment periods scheduled throughout the day. The procedure is relatively quick, and patients can expect to go home the same day.

By helping the heart forcefully pump blood throughout the body, patients’ exercise capacity and quality of life improves considerably. Learn more about heart health at Harbin Clinic Cardiology.