Aquapheresis – The Answer for Many Heart Failure Patients

Those who suffer from congestive heart failure understand how physically debilitating fluid overload, or the retention of excess salt and water, can be.  Not only is the condition uncomfortable and physically limiting, it is one of the main reasons patients with heart failure are admitted to the hospital, to treat  the shortness of breath that often results.  By eliminating the weight of excess fluid on the lungs and heart, patients’ symptoms and discomfort are greatly improved.  However, traditional means for alleviating excess fluid, like diuretic medication and a low salt diet, can become ineffective over time or not effective altogether.  Until the introduction of Aquapheresis, many heart failure patients were left with no other options.

Aquapheresis Treatments Continue to Grow

Today Aquapheresis is an effective and continually growing treatment available for heart failure patients, which provides dramatic results; safely and effectively removing excess salt and water.  Oklahoma Heart Institute was one of the first hospitals in Tulsa providing this option to patients as an inpatient treatment and the only hospital in the state to provide Aquapheresis as an outpatient treatment. 

Studies demonstrate patients treated with Aquapheresis, over standard diuretic drug therapy, have the following outcomes:

50% decrease in re-hospitalization episodes

63% decrease in total re-hospitalization days

52% decrease in emergency department or clinic visits


While patient results will vary, physicians can better manage fluid overload with Aquapheresis by prescribing treatment based on how each patients responds.  For some patients, a single inpatient treatment resolves the excess fluid retention and stress on the heart.  Other patients may require more treatments, either as an inpatient or outpatient.  Aquapheresis is an alternative for those who are or become diuretic resistant.

What to expect during and after treatment

An intravenous catheter is placed using local anesthetic. When treatment begins, the catheter will be connected to a blood circuit filter, which will withdraw blood from the patient’s vein and filter out excess water.  The filtered blood is then returned to the patient.  To avoid any potential problems with blood filter circuit clotting, patients may be given a blood thinner (anticoagulant) before and/or during treatment.

The length of time of the treatment is determined by the amount of total fluid that needs to be removed.  Generally, outpatients receive treatment for eight hours in one day or continuously for 24 to 72 hours as an inpatient.

With Aquapheresis, Your physicians are able to specify and adjust the exact amount and rate of fluid to be removed, resulting in a gradual reduction that has no significant impact on blood pressure, heart rate or balance of electrolytes.  Following the treatment, some patients feel better right away, while others may require more time depending on their condition and amount of excess fluid that needs to be removed. For patients who have had shortness of breath, it may improve or go away altogether.

After the treatment is complete, the catheters may be removed or they may be left in place to administer additional fluids and medications. The physician will adjust medications as needed and may prescribe additional Aquapheresis treatments.