Pumping Devices Prolong Life for People with Heart Failure
A recent study has shown that using a heart pump known as a ventricular
assist device may be a better treatment for heart failure
than some of the most powerful medications. Researchers presented
the study results at the annual meeting of the American Heart
Association, which took place in November. The National Heart,
Lung, and Blood Institute and Columbia University conducted
recently, doctors used the pump primarily to prolong life
while patients waited for a heart transplant. The waiting
list for transplants is a long one. In 1999 there were 4,000
people on the list, but only 2,200 received transplants. As
people have waited for hearts to become available, doctors
have seen that the pump prolongs lives longer than expected.
comprised 129 patients who were not qualified to have heart
transplants either because they were too old or too sick.
Results showed that:
one year, 52 percent of those on the pump were still alive,
while only 24.7 percent on medications had survived.
two years, 22.9 percent of patients on the pump were alive,
and only 8.1 percent of those taking the drugs had survived.
not to confuse the VAD with the artificial heart. Doctors
implant the VAD in the abdomen and connect two tubes from
the device to a heart ventricle and to the aorta. Another
tube goes from the pump to a battery pack that the patient
wears on the shoulder. The artificial heart is a complete
The New York Times, 13 November 2001.