Eleven patients with advanced heart failure were able to have their heart pumps removed thanks to a combination of medication administered at Louisville's Jewish Hospital.
Texas Heart Institute is the only other institution that has removed heart pumps, also known as left ventricular assist devices. Twenty of the devices have been removed in 10 years there. At Jewish, all 11 have been taken away in the past 18 months, Laura Ungar reports for The Courier-Journal.
The program at Jewish uses a cocktail of medicines, including ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and others, in combination with the heart pump. The medication helps strengthen the heart, allowing the pump to be eventually removed. "These patients have a very good quality of life, much better, in fact, than if they continued with the LVAD alone or received a heart transplant," said Dr. Emma Birks, director of the Jewish Hospital Heart Failure, Transplant and Mechanical Support Program.
The treatment could mean "some patients with advanced heart failure may be able to forgo a heart transplant, while others can delay having one," Ungar reports. "That could mean a longer life for younger heart failure patients with LVADs; life expectancy after a transplant averages 10 years."
Nationwide, about 5 million Americans have heart failure, which translates to 300,000 deaths a year, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute figures show. (Read more)