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LVADs for End-Stage Heart Failure: An Alternative to Transplants

The Future of LVADs for End-Stage Heart Failure

Yancy says that the number of people who get LVADs is likely to increase dramatically in the next few years. They might also be used in people with earlier stages of disease, when they could have an even bigger benefit.

There's some evidence that LVADs could do more than support a weakened heart -- they might be able to help heal it. Some European studies suggest that an LVAD could be implanted temporarily to assist the heart and allow it to recover. Afterward, the device could theoretically be removed.

LVADs also have the potential to work alongside possible future treatments for heart failure, Yancy says. For instance, researchers are working on stem cells and growth hormones that could help regenerate a damaged heart. Theoretically, LVADs could be implanted temporarily to help support the heart while those treatments take effect.

While these future technologies are being developed, LVADs are making a big difference in the lives of thousands of people with heart failure right now.

"What people with heart failure need to know today is that LVADs can help them feel better and live longer than previously possible," says Yancy. "These devices were only available to a few before. But now, more and more people are benefiting from them."

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Reviewed on March 11, 2010

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