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FDA grants emergency use for heart pump in COVID-19 cases

A medical worker pushes a patient on a stretcher through the emergency room entrance at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York City on March 31. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A medical worker pushes a patient on a stretcher through the emergency room entrance at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York City on March 31. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday granted emergency use authorization for a U.S.-made heart pump to treat COVID-19 patients who suffer heart and lung failure.

Impella heart pumps, manufactured by Abiomed of Danvers, Mass., are now allowed to treat the heart's left ventricle in coronavirus patients who develop pulmonary edema or myocarditis, the company said.

The FDA granted approval for the pumps to be used in combination with "extracorporeal membrane oxygenation," or ECMO, in which a machine is used to replace the function of the heart and lungs in patients suffering multiple failures.

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COVID-19 causes widespread inflammation that can result in damage to the lungs and heart. Some patients have developed severe inflammation that resulted in both heart and lung failure.

The Impella pumps combined with ECMO therapy have "become an important tool for physicians treating COVID-19 patients suffering from both heart and lung failure," Abiomed said.

"The early clinical evidence continues to accrue in favor of including left ventricular [relief] in many patients on ECMO," Dr. Christian Bermudez of the University of Pennsylvania said in a statement.

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"The superior clinical outcomes from the combination of Impella and ECMO are likely the result of reducing the stress on the myocardium and work required of the left ventricle, also reducing secondary lung injury due to pulmonary congestion."

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