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LVAD Extends Life for Transplant Patients

Nearly 50,000 people a year are in need of a heart transplant. Only 5,000 will receive one. A new device, approved by the FDA, may provide much needed blood flow in failing hearts until a donor heart can be found. The FDA has approved a new heart pump that will actively pump blood through a failing heart. The LVAD, or left ventricular assist device is designed to support blood flow, extending the period of time a patient can wait for a transplant heart to become available. The device is small, easily implanted into the chest wall and is safe to be used in or out of the hospital. The HeartWare LVAD is much smaller than previous devices released on the market, making it fit more comfortably and simpler to implant. The LVAD doesn’t come without its downfalls though. There are concerns about pump-related thrombosis and blood-clots or stroke. However, after clinical trials the benefits of the device outweighed the risks of use in end-stage heart failure patients. Patients with heart failure are considered to reach the end stages when all other therapies or treatments fail to offer anymore benefit to the condition. The new device is already in use in Europe and now available in the states. The LVAD device could also make an economical impact, both for the healthcare industry and for HeartWave, the company who makes the device. Those with end-stage heart disease can breathe a little easier, knowing that a new and improved LVAD can help to keep their heart working while they wait patiently for good news from the transplant list. Sources: Reuters - Wall Street Journal - MedPage Today -
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