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A new treatment for heart failure patients
Mercy is the first hospital in central Iowa to utilize Aquapheresis™ Therapy, also known as ultrafiltration therapy, which is designed to safely and effectively removes excess salt and water from the bodies of patients who are suffering from fluid overload due to heart failure.
Health care providers may prescribe a low salt diet, fluid restriction or other therapies to help patients reduce fluid – such as a water pill, or diuretic, given orally or intravenously. However, these treatments do not always work effectively resulting in a need for alternative therapy – such as Aquapheresis™.
What to expect during treatment
Initially, an intravenous catheter will be selectively placed using local anesthetic. When treatment begins, the catheter will be connected to a blood circuit filter, which withdraws blood from the vein and filters out excess water. The filtered blood is then returned to the patient. To avoid any potential problems with blood filter circuit clotting, patients may be given a blood thinner (anticoagulant) before and/or during treatment.
Physicians are able to specify and adjust the exact amount and rate of fluid to be removed, resulting in a gradual reduction that has no significant impact on blood pressure, heart rate or balance of electrolytes. The maximum amount of fluid removed is 500 ml or 1.1 pounds per hour.
Although the risks for this treatment are minimal, patients may experience dizziness or nausea, have pain or bruising at the catheter sites or experience other unusual and unexpected symptoms during treatment. Additionally, patients may have relief from symptoms immediately, or it may take some time depending on the patient's condition and amount of excess fluid that needs to be removed. Shortness of breath may also go away.
How long is the treatment?
The length of time of the treatment is determined by how much total fluid needs to be removed and how fast the health care provider can remove it. Generally, outpatients receive treatment for eight hours a day for three days or continuously for 24-36 hours as an inpatient.
What to expect after treatment
After the treatment is complete, the catheters may be removed or they may be left in place to administer additional fluids and medications. Your doctor will adjust your medications as needed. Additional Aquapheresis™ therapy may be needed.