Sleeve worn on heart fights failure

From New Orleans, at a meeting of the American Heart Association

IT’S A WRAP. Mesh can prevent the heart from expanding. Acorn Cardiovascular

Wrapping failing hearts in mesh sleeves might save lives and avert the need for transplants. Researchers have tested a wrap that can be placed around an expanded and dangerously weakened heart. Pressure from the mesh restores the organ to an efficient, elliptical form, they report.

In a trial sponsored by the device’s manufacturer, Acorn Cardiovascular of St. Paul, Minn., cardiologist Douglas L. Mann of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his colleagues implanted the mesh device, made of polymers, in half of 300 patients with serious heart failure. All patients also received standard therapies such as drugs, heart-valve surgery, and specialized pacemakers.

Nearly 2 years after implantation, 38 percent of the mesh recipients had improved heart conditions and 37 percent had died or worsened in status. The condition of about a quarter remained unchanged. By comparison, only 27 percent of patients who didn’t receive the device improved, and 45 percent died or got sicker.

Implanting the device requires breaking through the rib cage, which can cause infections and lung problems, Mann says. Nevertheless, he estimates, at least 1 million of the nation’s 5 million heart-failure patients could benefit.

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