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LVADs Linked to Worsening Health, Cognitive Function

Research suggests left ventricular assist devices aren’t a magic bullet

FRIDAY, May 1, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Left ventricular assist devices might contribute to a decline in health or cognitive function in some patients, according to two studies from the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2015 Scientific Sessions, held from April 29 to May 1 in Baltimore.

In the first study, 1,173 patients from different hospitals underwent cognitive function testing before their implant, and at each follow-up meeting with their doctor. About 29 percent of patients experienced a significant decline in memory and problem solving within a year of receiving their implant, the researchers found. They were more likely to have this decline if they were older and had been fitted with the device as a permanent therapy, rather than a temporary support while awaiting heart transplant.

The second study involved 164 device recipients at one hospital, whose health and quality of life were monitored between January 2012 and October 2013. The researchers found that 58 patients had experienced a poor outcome within a year of receiving the implant. Thirty-seven of them died, 17 reported a significant decrease in quality of life, three were readmitted to the hospital two or more times for heart failure, and one had a disabling stroke. Patients with poor overall results had longer hospital stays for device placement, had been given the device as permanent therapy more often, and had more bleeding events.

“The more we understand these different adverse events, the better we can help patients make informed decisions about these therapies that are wonderful but come with their own risks,” Timothy Fendler, M.D., a research fellow at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo., told HealthDay.

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