Guidry News Service recently visited with Dr. Wissam Khalife, associate professor of medicine and the director of the advanced heart failure, transplant and LVAD program at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Listen (13:13)
“Heart failure is one of the biggest problems in the United States, especially as we get older; then the chance or the risk of getting heart failure is very high,” Dr. Khalife said, noting the advances in surgery and medications. “Medical treatment is, for sure, much better than the past.”
Dr. Khalife cited improvements in heart transplant technology as well as use of artificial pumps to keep patients alive much longer.
“Patients with advanced heart failure now have, for sure, better survival rates,” he said. “They have more options.”
Dr. Khalife is conducting clinical research on a new drug treatment for patients with acute heart failure exacerbation.
“When the patient gets really significant symptoms due to heart failure like shortness of breath, they can’t walk, they can’t sleep, they can’t do anything – they are fatigued, weak, tired; they have to sleep on the recliner because of the buildup of fluid because of the weak heart, weak muscles,” he said, noting the loss of quality of life for the patients and the high mortality rates for those who are hospitalized with those symptoms.
Dr. Khalife said he is working with a drug company to test a medication that is being administered through the veins of heart patients, “...that tries to help these patients to get out of the hospitals in a short period of time and then the long-term re-hospitalization rate and the outcome will be much better, hopefully.”
Dr. Khalife said the research is an integral part of UTMB’s efforts to improve the lives of heart patients.
“We are just trying our best to do really whatever it takes to take care of these patients from clinical standpoint as well as from research standpoint to see what we can do to keep improving the way we treat these patients,” he said.