LVAD heart pumps improve survival in congestive heart failure patients

Despite a risk of stroke, left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) – heart pumps – work better than medical therapy in keeping seriously ill congestive heart failure patients alive, according to Columbia researchers. The research is published in today’s rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Previously, the landmark Randomized Evaluation of Mechanical Assistance of the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure (REMATCH trial) found that patients too ill to undergo heart transplant fared better if they received a pumping device rather than optimal treatment with medications.  But their survival success was tempered by a number of adverse neurological events, such as stroke and transient ischemic attack (“mini-stroke”). In this study, researchers investigated whether or not stroke risk lessens the survival benefits of LVAD by comparing the rates of stroke-free survival in patients treated with medicine versus patients treated with LVAD.

"In this analysis, we found a 44 percent decreased risk of stroke or death in the LVAD group versus the optimal medical group," said principal investigator Ronald M. Lazar, Ph.D., professor of clinical neuropsychology in neurology and neurological surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "So even when we handicapped the LVAD group by adding stroke to the analysis, they still survived longer."

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Lazar, contact Leslie Boen at 212-305-3900 or [email protected].

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