Mechanical heart pumps can help restore full function in heart failure patients, study shows

Mechanical heart pumps, or left ventricular assist devices, may be able to fully restore heart function in patients with severe heart failure, when combined with medication, according to a study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.

Researchers examined results from a clinical trial that included 58 men with heart failure.

Of the 58 men, 16 were fitted with a left ventricular assist device and then had it removed due to the extent of their recovery. Eighteen men still had an LVAD at the end of the trial, while 24 patients were waiting for a heart transplant.

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For patients who eventually had the device removed, the time between fitting and removal varied between 22 days and 638 days. On average, patients had the pump fitted 396 days before removal.

Researchers also compared the clinical trial participants with 97 healthy men who had no heart disease. They tested both groups' oxygen utilization and heart pumping capability. They found that 38 percent of people who recover enough to allow the mechanical pump to be removed demonstrated a heart function equivalent to that of a healthy individual.

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