New heart pump reduces death risk after severe heart attacks

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A recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session has brought new hope to the treatment of cardiogenic shock, a severe complication of heart attacks.

The study focused on the efficacy of the Impella CP micro-axial flow pump, a device designed to aid the heart by enhancing blood flow following a heart attack.

According to the findings, implanting this device shortly after a heart attack significantly increases survival rates at six months among those suffering from cardiogenic shock.

Cardiogenic shock occurs in about 5% to 10% of heart attacks and is a primary cause of mortality associated with heart attacks.

It happens when the heart suddenly can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands, starving the heart and other vital organs of oxygen.

The study, named DanGer Shock, represents a pivotal trial in the field, marking a rare positive development in managing cardiogenic shock.

Jacob E. Møller, MD, the lead author of the study and a professor at the Department of Cardiology at Odense University Hospital in Denmark, noted the potential of the Impella CP to become a routine treatment for these critically ill patients.

The Impella CP device is a tiny pump inserted percutaneously into the heart’s left ventricle, where it helps to pump oxygenated blood through the body at a rate of up to 3.5 liters per minute.

This trial is distinctive as it’s the first sufficiently powered to assess whether micro-axial flow pumps like the Impella CP can improve survival in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarctions (STEMI) complicated by cardiogenic shock.

The trial involved 360 patients at 14 centers across Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom. These patients were treated for STEMI and were in cardiogenic shock but had not experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrests leading to coma.

They were randomly assigned to receive either standard care or standard care plus the Impella CP pump treatment.

The results after six months were promising. Among the 355 patients analyzed, the mortality rate was 13 percentage points lower in the group that received the Impella pump compared to those who received standard care alone.

Moreover, there was a noted reduction in the need for additional mechanical heart support, heart transplants, or death in the Impella group, although the number of hospital-free days did not differ significantly between the two groups.

However, the study also highlighted some challenges, as the Impella group experienced higher rates of serious complications such as bleeding, limb ischemia, renal replacement therapy, and sepsis.

Despite these complications, the benefits, particularly the extended survival beyond the initial 30 days, were considered substantial. Møller emphasized that the survival curves continued to diverge favorably for the Impella-treated group over time, suggesting lasting benefits.

While the results are encouraging, Møller cautioned that the findings might not be generalizable to all cases of cardiogenic shock due to the selective nature of the trial.

He suggested that further studies are needed to explore the benefits of the Impella pump across more diverse patient populations and to determine how the duration of mechanical support might impact the rate of severe complications.

The study opens a path for potentially lifesaving interventions in a condition historically associated with high mortality, offering a beacon of hope for patients suffering from one of the most critical complications of heart attacks.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease, and coconut sugar could help reduce artery stiffness.

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