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Heart pumps save lives

Heart failure is a very common condition: around 200,000 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with the disease. Some patients with life-threatening heart failure can be helped by mechanical heart pumps, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Heart failure is a very common condition: around 200,000 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with the disease. Some patients with life-threatening heart failure can be helped by mechanical heart pumps, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

In the thesis, a total of 99 patients with life-threatening heart failure were treated with a heart pump for short- or long-term circulatory support. "Two-thirds of these patients survived," says Hans Lidén, a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy and consultant thoracic surgeon at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. "A total of around 300 patients have been treated with heart pumps at the hospital over the years - and with good results."

Heart pumps for short-term support are used mainly for young and middle-aged patients with acute problems, such as heart attacks. Heart pumps for long-term support are normally used for patients with chronic heart failure who are so ill that they are not expected to survive the wait - or the operation - for a new heart.

"In the group given short-term support, around half the patients recovered sufficient heart function to be able to return home," says Lidén. Most patients given long-term support have gone on to have heart transplants. The main finding of the thesis is that this treatment can improve survival among patients with life-threatening heart failure.

HEART FAILURE Around 200,000 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with heart failure, and estimates suggest a similar number of undiagnosed cases. Impairment of the heart's function means that it pumps out less blood than the body needs. The most common symptoms are tiredness, shortness of breath and swelling (oedema) in the lower leg. The severest forms of heart failure are as deadly as the most serious forms of cancer, and quality of life is substantially reduced.

For more information, please contact: Researcher and consultant surgeon Hans Lidén, +46 31 342 7505 +46 31 342 7505 e-mail: hans.liden@vgregion.se

The thesis has been successfully defended.

Download the thesis from: <http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/21873>

Bibliographic data: Lidén H, Wiklund L, Haraldsson Ä, Berglin E, Hultman J, Dellgren G. Temporary circulatory support with extra corporeal membrane oxygenation in adults with refractory cardiogenic shock. Scand Cardiovasc J. 2009 Aug;43(4):226-32

idw :: 14.06.2010