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Review Urges Restricted Use Of Devices To Keep Heart Patients Alive

transplantation, but it certainly improves," Sharples said.

The most common complications from the surgery were blood clots, infection and respiratory distress, the review found.

Monitoring and maintaining the heart pump usually requires patients to stay in the hospital during the entire time they wait for a donated heart. "That limits quality of life," Sharples said. "Patients don't get back to their normal way of life, their mobility, their ambulation is restricted and there are adverse events, but it's certainly better than before VAD implantation."

The small number of heart-pump implantations performed in the United Kingdom made it impossible for the reviewers to identify a fair patient group for comparison. But as an approximation, the reviewers compared health outcomes and costs for the VAD patients with patients on the UK's heart transplant waiting list.

The review estimates the average cost of a VAD implant operation is 63,830 British pounds (roughly $116,000). The average cost for health care and the stay in a hospital's intensive care unit was 14,500 British pounds (about $26,300).

"We compared the VAD group with the very sickest of the transplant candidates and found that the health care for those individuals was less costly. Those non-VAD patients also had greater survival," Sharples said.

Still, the overall survival rate for the heart assist patients was 52 percent after one year. The reviewers called that an "excellent clinical achievement" for a patient population with rapidly failing hearts. "In the UK, what we expect is that we will continue to use the devices in selected cases, and we will continue to use them in a small number of centers that have necessary surgical, cardiological and technical expertise," Sharples said.

"We recommend that the United Kingdom continue to monitor the development of the new devices," said Sharples. "I think we are all quite hopeful that they wi
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