Implantable pump to help heart patients until transplant

April 3rd, 2009 - 1:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 3 (IANS) A tiny lightweight implantable pump that will help patients with severe heart failure tide over until transplant has been developed.
Called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), it is the latest generation of heart assist devices and had been tested at the universities of Washington, Minnesota and Pittsburg, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Inova Fairfax Hospital.

“LVADs have allowed us to support patients until they can receive a heart transplant, so they are called a bridge to transplant,” said Gregory Ewald, Washington University cardiologist. “For patients whose hearts are failing and who are awaiting transplantation, these devices can be lifesavers.”

An LVAD is implanted inside the chest cavity near the heart and is connected to the heart’s left ventricle (pumping chamber). It assists the patient’s weakened or damaged ventricle in pumping blood through the body.

By restoring a normal blood flow, the device improves patients’ health. Because it is powered by portable battery packs, patients usually go home while they wait for a heart transplant.

The LVAD used in this study, the VentrAssist, measures 6.4 cm and weighs less than 284 gm. It is considered an improvement over earlier devices because its size and light weight make it suitable for small adults and children.

The study considered the device successful if a patient survived until heart transplantation or survived at least 180 days after the device was implanted and remained qualified for heart transplantation. Eighty-five percent of patients met this measure of success.

The third-generation device was presented at the 58th annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

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