Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center, headquartered in Richmond, Va, recently published findings that demonstrate physical exercise and measurable rehabilitation are possible with the Tucson, Ariz-based SynCardia Inc’s Total Artificial Heart.

Researchers say from January 2006 to May 2010, they conducted a single-center, retrospective study encompassing 37 patients who received a Total Artificial Heart (TAH). From January 2010 to December 2010, the study reportedly focused on 12 patients implanted with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). Over the course of an 8-week period, researchers measured both sets of patients’ blood pressure (BP) response during exercise, their BP response to exercise duration, and change in tolerated exercise workload. 

The study’s authors reiterate their findings and also acknowledge that, “During circulatory support with a TAH, the BP response to exercise was blunted. However, aerobic exercise training early after device implantation was found to be safe and feasible in a supervised setting.”

According to researchers, TAH patients started their physical rehabilitation at a median of 5 days and treadmill exercise a median of 19 days after implant. The study reports that the patients demonstrated increased exercise intensity and duration over time. The study also indicates that while mean arterial BP did not change with exercise in TAH patients, it did increase in those with an LVAD.

The study goes on to suggest that patients who participated in early physical therapy tended to have shorter waiting periods for heart transplantation (60 days rather than 89 days) and significantly higher survival rates to transplantation, (100% rather than 70%). Researchers say that 30 TAH patients were still on device support during the study, while 88% of the remaining TAH patients had been transplanted.

The study was recently published in The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation (JHLT)

Source: SynCardia Systems, Inc