SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) — Biznet Internet Solutions of Southfield has joined forces with a heart specialist in Indianapolis to introduce an iPhone app that can help doctors and patients evaluate the risks of implanting an artificial heart.

Jennifer Cowger, M.D., created the iPhone app to help doctors assess a patient’s suitability for a left ventricular assist device, which is used to support heart function and blood flow in patients waiting for a transplant or for long-term management of heart failure.

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The pump, sometimes called an artificial heart, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives a year.

More than 150,000 patients in the U.S are candidates for a heart transplant, but this year there will be only about 2,200 heart transplants performed, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Implantation of an LVAD is a life-saving option.

“The app is used to identify people who will do well on the pump,” Cowger said. It provides a risk score for estimating a patient’s survival rate at one year after surgery.

Access to reliable information is important as the rate of implants grows and the procedure is performed at smaller institutions with less experience, Cowger said. About 10,000 LVAD pumps have been implanted in the United States so far.

“The app provides data based on thousands of prior implants to let patients know their likelihood of survival, which helps them make a more informed decision,” Cowger said.

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The app is based on research predicting survival of patients with the LVAD in a study co-authored by Cowger and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The app includes an updated trouble-shooting guide to assist doctors and nurses who are caring for patients with the pump. It provides the latest information and guidelines about alarms and managing patients on the device in particular scenarios.

The app is available for free to download from iTunes by searching LVAD Calc.

Cowger received her medical degree from Ohio State University, graduating class valedictorian in 2001. She completed her internal medicine residency at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. in 2004. She received her cardiovascular medicine fellowship training at the University of Michigan with training in heart failure and cardiac transplant, which was completed in 2007. After concluding her medical education, Cowger obtained a master’s degree in clinical research and statistics at UM’s school of public health. She then served as the medical director of Mechanical Support at UM.

Cowger’s research interests are in mechanical circulatory support of the heart using left ventricular assist devices. Her specific research area of focus is on improving patient outcomes with long term LVAD support.

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