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Heart Pumps Help Cardiac Function in Limited Capacity

Devices allow heart to rest and recover in heart failure but may not be explantable in most

WEDNESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Left ventricular assist devices implanted into patients with chronic heart failure can significantly improve cardiac function although the degree of clinical recovery is not adequate for explantation in most, according to a report published in the May 15 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Simon Maybaum, M.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y., and colleagues conducted a study of 67 patients with chronic heart failure who were implanted with left ventricular assist devices.

Compared with before implantation, use of the left ventricular assist device resulted in improved left ventricular ejection fraction, end-diastolic diameter and mass. With partial support from the device, 34 percent of patients had a left ventricular ejection fraction of more than 40 percent, although by 120 days after implantation the number of patients with this degree of improvement dropped to pre-implantation levels.

Tissue samples revealed reduced myocyte size, collagen content, and cardiac tumor necrosis factor-α, but only six patients were able to have the device removed. "There are two contrasting, important findings in our study. One, the ability to remove a left ventricular assist device from a patient with end-stage heart failure was low," said Maybaum, in a statement. "Two, there was a high degree of improvement in heart function during the use of the assist device."

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