Washington, - Fitting heart failure patients with mechanical heart pumps could actually heal their organ and avoid the need for a transplant, scientists have found.
Around 500,000 people in Britain are diagnosed with heart failure each year and if their condition becomes life threatening they often need a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to keep them alive while they wait for a transplant.
The device takes over the pumping of the main chamber of the heart and is connected to a battery pack which is usually worn by the patient around the waist.
But scientists at Newcastle University have discovered that nearly one in three men fitted with the pumps recovered enough to have it removed, without the need for a transplant. It suggests the device could become a treatment itself, rather than just a last resort before surgery.
"We talk about these devices as a bridge-to-transplant, something which can keep a patient alive until a heart is available for transplantation," said Dr. Djordje Jakovljevic, senior research fellow in cardiovascular ageing and heart failure at the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University.
"However, we knew that sometimes patients recover to such an extent that they no longer need a heart transplant." "For the first time, what we have shown is that heart function is restored in some patients - to the extent that they are just like someone healthy who has never had heart disease. In effect, these devices can be a bridge to full recovery in some patients," Dr. Djordje said.
To test whether the pumps could aid complete recovery, the Newcastle team conducted a trial on 58 men with severe heart disease who were fitted with LVADs. After an average of 396 days using the device they were tested against 97 healthy men with no known heart disease.
All were asked to walk on a treadmill with a face mask to monitor their oxygen utilization and heart pumping capability. Nearly one in three recovered enough to allow the device to be removed, while 40% of those men demonstrated heart function which was equivalent to a healthy individual of the same age.
Hundreds of people require a heart transplant every year, but only around 200 operations are carried out annually because of the current organ donor crisis. (QNA)
Source: Qatar News Agency