Lifesaving Heart Attack Treatment Replicated Nationally

Patients with a deadly heart attack complication nationally survived at significantly higher rates when treated with a specific protocol offered at Deborah Heart and Lung Center, according to trial results recently released.

Deborah was one of 65 sites enrolled in the National Cardiogenic Shock Initiative (NationalCSI) study that showed 72% of patients with cardiogenic shock survived their heart attack when treated with the protocol. Researchers announced the trial results at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 2019 Scientific Sessions. Typical survival rate from this deadly complication has historically hovered around 50%.

“Deborah is pleased to help move the needle in survival from heart attacks,” said Richard Kovach, the study’s Principal Investigator at Deborah. “We’ve worked together as a team to implement this protocol, and we’re happy to see the results in our patients.”

In heart attack patients experiencing cardiogenic shock, the heart is too weak to pump blood to vital organs and the rest of the body. The scenario deprives vital organs of sufficient blood supply, causing them to go into shock and, eventually, cease functioning.

The protocol, available at, entails quickly recognizing the condition, then inserting a straw-sized pump into the heart to keep blood flowing throughout the body. The Impella pump, an FDA-approved device, is inserted through a catheter in the groin as soon as the patient arrives at the hospital. Doctors then treat the cause of the heart attack, either inserting a stent, removing a clot or taking other necessary action.

The national study results involved doctors across the country at sites ranging from community hospitals to large academic centers. They used the protocol to treat 171 patients — 77% male with an average age of 63 years – between July 2016 and February 2019. They also isolated predictive markers that indicate a patient’s condition, an invaluable tool in determining treatment.

NationalCSI researchers and cardiologists based at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit are leading the study, the first large-scale clinical trial of a national cardiogenic shock treatment protocol. It is the second iteration of a smaller pilot study conducted in southeast Michigan and is expected to continue at Deborah and other locations for at least two more years.

“We’re very pleased that these preliminary trial results show this protocol can be replicated in many different hospital settings to improve survival in cardiogenic shock,” said Henry Ford Health System cardiologist Dr. Babar Basir, who is leading the effort in Detroit with pioneering cardiologist William W. O’Neill.

Dr. O’Neill, medical director of the Henry Ford Health System Center for Structural Heart Disease, said he expects continued improvements could raise the survival rate to >80%.

“Even though every hospital has their own standards, we found that when physicians across the country recognize the signs of shock early and follow this protocol, it can save lives,” Dr. O’Neill said. “We’re honored to be part of this life-saving work.”