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Patients can Survive with Artificial Heart Until Transplant

Update Date: Mar 27, 2014 04:12 PM EDT

People on transplant lists could end up waiting till their deaths before actually getting the organ. In order to reduce the risk of death for heart patients at least, scientists have developed artificial hearts. Now, according to the largest single-center study to be conducted on patients with implanted artificial hearts, the researchers found that these devices can greatly improve patients' survival chances until they get a heart transplant.

This study involved 22 heart patients who had the device implanted at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in 2012 and 2013. The researchers focused on the primary endpoints of death as well as stroke incidence at 60 days. So far, five of the patients had died, four had successfully received a heart transplant and 13 of the patients are still waiting for a transplant. Out of the patients who are still waiting, eight of them were allowed to go home and wait. A total of three had suffered from a stroke. None of the people developed infections from the artificial heart.

"We were pleased to see how well many of these patients did," lead investigator, Swaminatha Gurudevan, M.D., cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said in according to the press release. "Given how sick these patients were, we expected to see higher mortality rates."

All of the patients had end-stage cardiomyopathy, which occurs when the heart muscle becomes too thick, enlarged or rigid. Many of the patients who died were the sickest before their artificial heart transplant procedure. The researchers had separated the patients into three levels of sickness. From the sickest group, six out of 10 had survived with the artificial heart at 60 days. One had a successful heart transplant and the other five were still waiting for a transplant. In the middle level, eight out of nine of them had survived at 60 days. Two had gotten heart transplants and the remaining six were still waiting. In the last group, all three patients are still alive with one of them recovering from a heart transplant.

"Before, patients had to stay in the hospital while they waited for a new heart," Gurudevan said. "With the artificial heart, some can wait at home and continue to conduct many of their regular activities."

The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

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