Mechanical Support Provides Options For Heart Patients

It wasn’t long ago that options were limited for those suffering from heart failure. Patients remained on a transplant list until a heart became available. There were not many alternatives.

Since heart failure is one of the largest and fastest growing areas of cardiovascular disease, clinicians at The Ohio State Univeristy Medical Center are working to solve this problem. With many patients suffering severe or end-stage disease, the need for therapeutic alternatives continues to grow.

Image credit: CDC

One advancement has been the use of Ventricular assist devices (VAD), commonly known as heart pumps, which take over the pumping function for one or both of the heart’s ventricles, and are used as bridges to transplant and, in some cases, as long-term therapies for chronically ill patients.

Ohio State was one of nation’s leading enrollers in a recent randomized, multi-center trial testing the effectiveness of a second generation VAD that is smaller, lighter and longer lasting than its predecessor. While overall two-year survival rates were at 58 percent for all study participants, patients enrolled at Ohio State experienced survival rates approximately ten percent higher at both one and two years, in addition to improved quality of life. The device recently received Food and Drug Administration approval as a destination therapy for heart failure patients.

According to Dr. Benjamin Sun, director of cardiothoracic surgery at the Ohio State University Medical Center, those results point to the continued use and benefit of VADs to help patients who are poor transplant candidates regain enough physical and nutritional health to make them strong and successful transplant recipients.

“VADs are the ultimate rehabilitative therapy and allow most patients to achieve some level of healing in their hearts,” adds Sun. “Many people who receive these pumps achieve a very good quality of life, and may decide to keep the pump for years instead of receiving a transplant.”

More information about Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.


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