A study has been looking at how patients do after receiving a heart pump called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).
LVADs, used to treat severe heart failure, can lead to a number of complications, including infection and blood clots. So researchers decided to look at hospital admissions between January 2008 and July 2011, their causes and whether they could be predicted.
The study at the Mayo Clinic in America looked at one particular device, the HeartMate 11. They reviewed 115 patients with a mean age of 62 and found that after a year 83 of them had a total of 224 hospital readmissions.
During the first six months the major causes of the admissions were bleeding or cardiac related, such as arrhythmias, pump malfunction and right ventricular dysfunction. However, after six months readmissions for both sets of problems decreased. During the third year there was an increase due to blood clots.
Factors that contributed to fewer readmissions were patients living close to the hospital.
Researcher Dr Sudhir Kushwaha proposed that readmissions could be reduced by pro-actively treating arrhythmias before discharge and providing better anticoagulation regimes. Patients seen quickly at out-patient clinics and had their problems diagnosed and dealt with quickly also led to lower readmission. Patients seen more frequently were admitted less frequently because problems could be anticipated and treated.
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