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Change of heart: Machine helps patients feel young again

(WEAU) - February is American Heart month and according to Mayo Clinic Health System, more than 6 million Americans suffer from chest pain every year.
Although your heart is only about the size of a fist, it's there to help your body function.
"In December 2010, I was having chest pains and I came in on a Friday, by Sunday they had given me a quintuple bypass. One month later I had a heart attack," said Daniel Miner of Cadott.

It hasn't been an easy road for 56-year old Daniel Miner.

But a machine, although it may look scary made him feel years younger and it’s called external counterpulsation.

"We wrap blood pressure cuff around their legs, their thighs, the buttocks, hook them up to an EKG monitor. They will pump blood from those parts of the body up to the heart," said Mayo Clinic Health System RN, Valorie Semingson.

Its purpose is it to help patients who suffer from chest pains or might not be recommended for surgery.

"When I first started coming I used to walk up the stairs and I used to have to stop halfway to the third floor get some rest come on up. After two weeks, I could run up those steps,” said Miner.

"It's a rhythmic machine that will give the heart better blood supply and oxygen to reduce the amount of chest pain they have," said Semingson.

On average patients will spend about 35 hours on the machine. Dan says he spent about 50, but he said after a while he got used to it.

“They also wear some special tights that we give them. We have them wear them inside out," said Semingson.

So after a press of a button the machine starts pumping like a heart and after an hour goes by people like Dan feel like a new person.

"It’s really amazing. It does a really good job at taking me when I'm slow and sluggish to giving me a long term boost in my health,” said Miner.

Mayo Clinic Health System is the only place locally who offers the treatment. The treatment usually takes place 5 days a week, for 7 weeks, for an hour a day.


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