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Heart pump gives Dick Cheney 58 % chance of 2-year survival

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Media reports say 69-year old former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has undergone a surgery to receive a heart pump as his heart disease came to become end-stage congestive heart failure.

Heart failure of this type has a terrible prognosis and only eight percent of patients may survive for two years, Washington Post reports.

Cheney reportedly received a left ventricular assist device last week at Inova Fairfax Heart Vascular Institute. With this heart pump, Cheney now has a 58 percent chance to survive for two years.

The brand of the heart pump was not made public. But the Post speculated that it is likely a HeartMate II LVAD manufactured by the California company Thoratec.

This is an electrical device implanted in the chest to draw blood from the left ventricle and send the blood into the aorta, the main artery leaving the heart.

The pump is far from ideal. With it, the patients are at higher risk of forming blood clots in the pump circuit, which can travel to the brain causing a stroke. That is why patients with this medical device need to take anticoagulant drugs.

Another hazard associated with the heart pump is infection as the power for the device comes from an external battery, which can be carried over the shoulder through the stomach to the pump.

Patients receiving the heart pump are also at risk of kidney failure.

HeartMate II devices cost $100,000 a piece and are now used in an estimated 4,000 people worldwide.

Congestive heart failure or simply heart failure is a condition in which the heart fail to pump enough blood for the body. Coronary heart disease or narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle, is one major cause.

An estimated 5.7 million people in the United States live with heart failure and 300,000 people die from the disease each year, according to the National heart Lung and Blood Institute.

The condition can be prevented by following a healthier diet.  Studies have shown vitamin k2, green tea, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, low salt, whole grains, walnuts, DASH diet, and Mediterranean diet may help reduce the heart risk.

A Swedish study of 36,00 women aged 48 to 86 showed that those who closely adhered to the DASH diet were 37 percent less likely to suffer from heart failure.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a University of California San Francisco professor, recommends a diet that can stop progression of artery narrowing or even reverse it in people with coronary artery disease and the efficacy is 99 percent.

The Ornish diet consists of no more than 10 percent of calories from fat, no more than 10 milligrams of cholesterol per day, no meat, poultry, fish and any products made from these foods, non-fat dairy foods and egg whites, no more than 24 grams of sugar per day, no caffeine, no more than 1.5 ounces liquor, no more than 4 ounces wine or 12 ounces beer per day.  Two servings per day of tea, moderate salt, a low dose multivitamin and mineral supplement with vitamin B12, fish oil, and calcium supplements, one serving soy food per day are recommended.

By David Liu

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