, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 111-117
Date: 21 Dec 2012

Destination therapy: the new gold standard treatment for heart failure patients with left ventricular assist devices

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Heart failure continues to be a growing health problem, eluding large-scale improvement and treatment. Cardiac transplantation has been the gold standard treatment with high post-transplant survival rates and relatively good quality of life. However, there has been an extreme shortage of organ donations, limiting transplants to only a very small portion of patients with the condition. This led to a growing interest in alternative options for the increasing population of patients who are waitlisted or ineligible for transplantation. In recent years, ventricular assist device (VAD) technologies have advanced from pulsatile blood pumps to continuous-flow pumps that have demonstrated unprecedented post-implantation survival rates. The HeartMate II, the only commercially available, continuous flow left ventricular assist device (LVAD) in the United States and Europe, has been implanted in over 10,000 patients worldwide, setting a benchmark for biomedical modalities of advanced heart failure treatment. Thanks to the successes of contemporary LVADs, patients are able to enjoy a better lifestyle, with a significantly prolonged life span and the ability to regularly partake in physical activities. In this new biomedical generation, the usage of LVADs has begun to expand towards the treatment for a wider range of heart conditions, including earlier stages of heart failure. In fact, LVAD implantations have surpassed the number of transplants taken place annually. An increasing number of patients are considering the permanent, circulatory support with an LVAD, namely destination therapy, as a promising option for treating heart failure.

The review was submitted at the invitation of the editorial committee.