NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The FDA has just approved a new device to treat heart failure.
Heart failure is a common condition that affects nearly 6-million Americans.
And this new treatment is already helping one local woman.
"This is my favorite," says Joan Boyle, as she picked up the statue of one of the Wise Men.
Joan's passion is painting ceramic figures for family and friends.
She's done 5 or 6 Christmas nativity scenes - with 13 figures each.
And she's painted a host of Halloween figures.
But not long after retiring 6 years ago, Joan developed heart failure, really slowing down this spirited 86-year-old.
"My chest felt very heavy," she recalls, adding, "I wanted to get up and help my kids, and I couldn't."
Medication stopped working, and she wasn't a candidate for a conventional pacemaker because her heart rhythm is normal.
So last April, as part of a clinical trial, she became the first in the region to receive a new device called the Optimizer Smart System .
"This is the actual device," says Doctor Steven Roberts of the Jefferson Heart Institute as he picked up the small electronic generator.
Jefferson took part in the clinical trials for Optimizer Smart.
Dr. Roberts says Optimizer Smart has electric wires that go down into the heart to boost its muscle power.
"It drives the electrical currents each time the heart contracts and makes more of a contraction," he says.
The Optimizer Smart rests under the skin on the chest wall, beneath the collarbone.
Patients recharge the Optimizer's battery with a wireless pad held over the chest once a week.
"Less than an hour, it's the perfect time to watch the news!" Dr. Roberts notes.
Joan says she has more energy and stamina now and is back to baking her special chocolate chip cookies.
And she intends to see her great grandson graduate from high school 4 years from now - when she's ninety.
For more information on Optimizer Smart, CLICK HERE.
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