Oct 01, 2013 3:48 PM GMT
Based on a small number of patients who have already tried the approach, the heart can get "almost back but not quite back to normal," says Eduardo Rame, medical director of mechanical circulatory support at Penn, a leader of the new trial.
Recent advances in LVAD technology, plus a treatment protocol successfully championed in England by Emma Birks, director of heart failure, transplantation and mechanical support at University of Louisville, are fueling hope that more patients' hearts can recover sufficiently to function on their own. It would be "much better for patients to potentially do well on their own hearts again," says Dr. Birks, who is heading up the new study. With a heart transplant, there is a risk the body could reject the donated heart, for which patients must take immunosuppressant drugs. There also is a paucity of donor organs for all who need one.