Almost six million Americans are living with heart failure. It’s a condition where the heart can’t pump blood well enough to meet the body’s needs.

People with heart failure say they feel exhausted, weak, have trouble breathing, and some can have swollen legs and feet.

For the first time in the United States, researchers at Ohio State have successfully used an experimental device designed to treat patients with heart failure that is getting worse.

66-year old Robert Dye couldn’t wait to take his boat out of storage. It is the first time in more than a year that he’s had the energy.

“I could not walk any distance. I couldn’t even walk from the bed to my recliner without being short winded,” said Robert Dye, 66 years old.

At one point last year, Robert couldn’t breathe. He was gray. His limbs were ice cold. At his local hospital, doctors told his wife, Susan, something terrifying.

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“That he was more dead than alive. That was horrible because he’s mine and I didn’t want anything to happen,” said Susan Dye, Robert’s wife.

Robert had worsening heart failure. Doctors thought that he would be a good candidate for an experimental cardiac pulmonary nerve stimulation, or CPNS.

“The device is actually a series of electrodes that deliver electrical stimulus directly to the nerves,” said Sitaramesh Emani, MD Cardiologist at The Ohio State Wexter Medical Center.

These electrodes sat in a wire basket. Doctors inserted it through a catheter into a vein in Dye’s neck until it reached the artery just behind the heart. The controller was attached to the outside of his neck.

For four days, Dye’s doctors delivered stimulation to the nerves on the back of the heart, then removed the device.

“We think the heart is beating stronger, is beating better when this therapy is turned on,” Dr. Emani said.

Dye said he felt much better immediately.

“I walked a mile on the hospital floor,” Dye said.

Dye’s wife said she wanted to hold his hand because it was warm.

A procedure giving patients more time with the people they love and a chance to do the things they love to do.