A new generation of cardiac devices scheduled for human trials in Europe and the United States next year has heart surgeons talking about a possible sea change in the treatment of patients suffering from the most severe level of heart failure, which affects 150,000 to 200,000 Americans a year and kills thousands.
Traditionally, many of these patients received mechanical heart pumps, which kept them alive until they could receive transplants. But with an aging population and a limited supply of donor hearts, a growing number of cardiologists around the country are discussing novel strategies: whether some older patients should just expect to live with the pumps, for example, and whether the newest models can be used as “bridges” for some patients while new treatments help their hearts recover.
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