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Newer Device Provides Support Until Heart Transplant

Improves function and quality of life

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- A smaller, newer type of left ventricular assist device developed with continuous-flow technology is effective for at least six months and can improve function and quality of life while patients are awaiting a heart transplant, researchers report in the Aug. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Leslie W. Miller, M.D., from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues implanted a continuous-flow pump (HeartMate II LVAD, made by Thoratec) in 133 patients who were on a waiting list for a heart transplant.

After six months, 75 percent of patients underwent transplantation, had cardiac recovery or continued to receive mechanical support while remaining eligible for transplantation. The device was used for a median of 126 days, with a survival rate of 68 percent at 12 months during support. After three months, functional status and quality of life significantly improved. Major adverse events included stroke, right heart failure, pump thrombosis, postoperative bleeding and percutaneous lead infection.

"A continuous-flow left ventricular assist device can provide effective hemodynamic support for a period of at least six months in patients awaiting heart transplantation, with improved functional status and quality of life," Miller and colleagues conclude.

The study was supported by Thoratec.

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