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Who Needs a Total Artificial Heart?

You might benefit from a total artificial heart (TAH) if both of your ventricles don't work due to end-stage heart failure.

If you're waiting for a heart transplant, a TAH can help you survive longer. It also can improve your quality of life. If your life expectancy is less than 30 days and you're not eligible for a heart transplant, a TAH may extend your life beyond the expected 30 days.

A TAH is a "last resort" device. This means only people who have tried every other type of treatment, except heart transplant, can get it. TAHs aren’t used for people who may benefit from medicines or other procedures.

TAHs also have a size limit. These devices are fairly large and can only fit into large chest areas. Currently, no TAHs are available that can fit into children's chests. However, researchers are trying to make smaller models.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the TAH for certain types of patients. Your doctor will discuss with you whether you meet the conditions for getting a TAH.

If you and your doctor decide that a TAH is a good option for you, you also will discuss which of the two types of TAH will work best for you.

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July 6, 2012