Heart Pump as Pricey as Transplant

Researchers find costs for both are similar

TUESDAY, Nov. 19, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- The cost of implanting a mechanical pump into a person with congestive heart failure is comparable to the cost of a heart, liver or other transplant.

So says a study being presented today at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions meeting in Chicago.

This is the first study to look at the cost of implanting the pump, called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), which many consider the ultimate treatment for heart failure, says lead author Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, director of the Cardiovascular Institute and vice chairman of surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, in a prepared statement.

LVAD improve chances of survival and quality of life for people with end-stage congestive heart failure (CHF). That's a weakening of the heart muscle that impairs the heart's ability to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

The researchers analyzed medical and cost records of 68 people with CHF who received LVADs. They found the average cost for LVAD treatment was $196,699. That included hospital time, medicines, medical supplies and diagnostic procedures.

That amount didn't include the $65,000 cost of the LVAD itself.

Heart and liver transplants can cost between $205,000 and $250,000, the study says.

Oz says the study poses public health policy questions about whether it's worth the expense to use this lifesaving technology on people with CHF. He notes in his statement that society does accept the costs of transplants.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about congestive heart failure.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 19, 2002
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