The woman, whose leaky mitral valve was repaired during the same operation, requested anonymity.
Penn is one of three American hospitals participating in clinical trials of the device. About 30 of the devices have been implanted in patients in Germany and Australia.
Technically known as a cardiac support device, the jacket is slipped around the heart not unlike a girdle around the hips.
It works on the principle that if you stop the heart from enlarging (a typical symptom of heart disease), the heart will last longer and reduce the need for transplants and artificial hearts.
"The bigger the heart, the weaker the heart," said Dr. Michael Acker, a HUP heart surgeon, at a press conference yesterday. "If big hearts are bad, let's put something around it to keep it from expanding."
Also at the press conference was Dr. Mariell Jessup, a HUP cardiologist, who pointed out the need to reduce the number of heart transplants.
"There are about 400,000 people with heart failure diagnosed newly every year," Jessup said.
Meanwhile, the number of available, transplantable human hearts remains steady at about 2,000 a year, Acker said.
The device is the first product of the Acorn Cardiovascular, Inc., a start-up company in St. Paul, Minn.
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