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Non-transplant surgery for heart failure
  1. Stephen Westaby
  1. Oxford Heart Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford, UK
  1. Mr Stephen Westaby, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 9DU email: swestaby{at}

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Thrombolysis and PTCA save lives during acute myocardial infarction, but incomplete or delayed reperfusion results in akinesia or dyskinesia. If more than 20% of the left ventricular circumference is dyskinetic, the remaining contractile cavity dilates to increase stroke volume. When more than 50% of the myocardium is impaired, increased wall tension (LaPlace's law) triggers progressive left ventricular failure with regression to myocyte fetal genetics and apoptosis.1 ,2 In Britain, most heart failure is caused by coronary artery disease, particularly in patients over 60 years old. There are now hundreds of thousands of patients with debilitating symptoms despite maximal medical treatment. Less than 300 cardiac transplants per year are undertaken in a labour intensive way by 10 separate units. In a short time, more palliated young patients with congenital heart disease will require these organs. Consequently, the treatment of older patients with coronary disease and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy requires a radical rethink.

The following account of current and emerging surgical strategies for heart failure concentrates on those patients with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) < 30%, mean pulmonary artery pressure > 25 mm Hg, left ventricular circumferential akinesia or dyskinesia > 60%, and left ventricular end diastolic volume (LVEDV) > 250 ml (LVEDV index (LVEDVI) > 140 ml). Most of these patients are New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class III or IV with medical treatment. In coronary disease the relation between infarct size and mortality has been well defined (table 1).3 From the coronary artery surgery study registry, five year survival for patients with LVEF < 25% was 41% with medical treatment and 62% with surgery.4 For patients with dilated cardiomyopathy, mortality untreated is directly related to the severity of systolic dysfunction. Increased chamber sphericity and the presence of mitral regurgitation are markers of worse prognosis (one year mortality 54–70%). In the failing heart, mitral …

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