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"Parachute" May Help Some Heart Patients

Congestive heart failure patients may soon be able to "parachute" their way to better lives.

A new device, dubbed "the parachute," is meant to increase blood flow in those patients, and is doing well in clinical trials.

The device, dubbed "the parachute," looks like an upside-down chute. A small incision is made in a leg artery, and it's snaked up to the damaged portion of the pumping chamber of the heart, isolating the inefficient portion of the weakened heart chamber and enabling blood to flow more effectively. Most patients are discharged from the hospital a day after the procedure.

The parachute could be available within three years, if all continues to go well in the clinical trials.

It was developed and is made by CardioKinetix of Menlo Park, Calif.

Myrna Muso, a 69 year-old New Jersey grandmother, suffered a heart attack eight years ago. Since then, she's quit smoking and had a defibrillator-pacemaker inserted, but was still suffering from the effects of congestive heart failure, unable to catch her breath or continue any of her old activities.

As a new grandma, she couldn't enjoy the presence of her energetic grandson, and it would take her four days just to clean her small apartment.

When a friend heard about "the parachute," Muso signed up to be a part of the clinical trial.

She had it implanted in May and says she was "elated" after taking her first few breaths of air after the surgery. She wasn't huffing and puffing as she usually did, and has been able to become more active.

Muso told her story on "The Early Show" Wednesday, in the first of a three-part series on heart health, and her cardiologist, Dr. Robert Kipperman of New Jersey's Morristown Memorial Hospital, described how the parachute works.

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