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Eden man takes part in Cone Health study to help people with heart failure

Simple things like walking to the mailbox used to be exhausting for Paul Kelley.

“I would just be out of breath,” Kelley said. “I could not breathe.”

He's had congestive heart failure most of his life and has had about a dozen heart attacks.

“It was like an elephant sitting on my chest,” he said.

But lately, Kelley, who just turned 78, says he's been feeling like a brand-new man.

“I don't feel a day over 40,” he said.

In June, Kelley took part in the "Beat Heart Failure" therapy study with Cone Health in Greensboro.

“We were the first in North Carolina to put it in,” said Dr. Wells Brabham, a vascular surgeon with Cone Heath.

A small device called a Barostim Neo was placed in Kelley's neck and under his collar bone to send signals throughout his body which improve heart function.

“His energy is a lot better,” Brabham said.

Brabham says five more people have just joined the study.

“Heart failure is a chronic problem and it affects you every day,” Brabham said.

Along with having more energy, Kelley also doesn't worry as much as he used to.

"Am I gonna wake up in the morning?" he said.

It’s a question he no longer asks as he gets back to exercising and doing other things he hasn't been able to do in years.

"A whole new lease on life," Kelley said.

Only patients who have advanced heart failure can take part in the study and a cardiologist has to recommend them to get the treatment, according to Brabham.