(HealthDay News) — A combination of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) and intensive drug therapy may help boost heart function in end-stage heart failure patients, according to preliminary results from an ongoing study presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, held from Nov. 12 to 16 in New Orleans.
The new study was led by Emma Birks, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Besides receiving the LVAD, the 36 patients in the study were also prescribed an aggressive regimen of five different medications: lisinopril, spironolactone, digoxin, losartan, and carvedilol.
With this combined therapy, 13 of the patients recovered enough heart function after an average of 344 days to have the LVAD pump removed, the researchers found. Two patients who still had pumps received needed heart transplants, and one who still had a pump died. The 20 other patients still have their pumps, but two are scheduled to have their devices removed, the study authors said.
The results suggest “that even very advanced heart failure can be reversed using these heart pumps, particularly when combined with additional drug therapy, avoiding the need for heart transplantation for these patients and making the donor heart available for another needy individual,” Birks said in a heart association news release. “The fact that this could be done in several centers suggests that using the device with this drug combination to reverse heart failure is possible on a larger scale.”