LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) — Congestive heart failure robbed Bill Jenkins of his quality of life for more than 20 years.
"I'd get more tired, more worn out," Jenkins explained.
Walking down the hall or even spending time with family took a lot out of him.
"Just didn't feel like doing things," Jenkins said.
SEE ALSO: New procedure is 'holy grail' of breast reconstruction after mastectomy
Congestive heart failure causes patients, like Jenkins, to have weak hearts.
Their heart function is half of what it should be according to cardiologist Dr. Matt Sackett.
"We are talking about people who don't go to the grocery store because they get short of breath walking," Sackett said. "They don't go out and do the things we take for granted every day."
It’s caused by different heart conditions: coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or genetics for example.
Patients are usually treated with between four to five medications and doctors can implant a defibrillator to help save you from heart failure.
But Sackett said that doesn't improve your quality of life.
SEE ALSO: Sovah Health to offer 'breakthrough' sleep apnea treatment for those who can't use CPAP
Now there's a new procedure in our area that can.
"It's still up and coming," Sackett said.
Barostim is an implantable device that works with a defibrillator. It helps to re-balance nerve inputs from the brain to the heart that get out of balance.
“It reverses the body's reaction to a failing heart in a way that makes it actually better,” Sackett said.
The FDA approved the Barostim device in 2019. Only about 2500 patients in the U.S. have had the procedure so far according to Sackett.
In Virginia, only two hospitals provide the Barostim procedure – one of them at Centra in Lynchburg.
SEE ALSO: Man suing ex-employer Southern Air for $5M for alleged racial discrimination in Lynchburg
The hospital has only been offering for a few months through Centra Medical Group Stroobants Cardiovascular.
"This is just exciting," Sackett said. "To be able to offer something that improves the quality of life they are looking for."
“It sounds like magic," Jenkins said
Jenkins is one of the first four patients in our area to have the device implanted. He had the procedure back in October.
The procedure, performed by Dr. David Cassada, takes about an hour. Patients stay overnight for observation, but Sackett thinks in the future it will be performed on an outpatient basis.
Jenkins said he was a little sore in his chest after his procedure, but it wasn’t bad.
"In the new year I feel much better," Jenkins said. "I'm on the treadmill for 20 minutes. I don't feel like I need to take a nap after I get off the treadmill."
SEE ALSO: Chatham High School custodian wanted and on the run for firearm, drugs charges: Sheriff
Now Jenkins said he is ready to step out and be a part of life again.
"I just feel better," Jenkins said. "That's the best way I could describe it."
Cardiologists adjust the device over three to six months to get maximum effects.
Risks are related to surgery-- so a small risk of bleeding or infection.
The procedure is covered by most insurance.