Heart pumps can give some people with heart failure a complete recovery

6th October 2016

People with heart failure can sometimes make a full recovery after having a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) fitted, say researchers.

“LVAD-induced cardiac recovery is a real and under-recognised phenomenon, say the team, including experts from the University of Utah School of Medicine in America.

The researchers looked at 15,000 people who had had the heart pumps fitted, either while they were waiting for a heart transplant or as a treatment.   In the UK, LVADs are only used on the NHS as a bridge to transplant.

A total of 192 patients (1.3%) experienced heart recovery after a median of 11 months and were able to have the pump taken out or avoid transplantation altogether.

These patients tended to be under 50 years old, with dilated cardiomyopathy, have the pum less than two years after being diagnosed, and not having had an internal defibrillator (ICD).

The researchers said that little work had been devoted to understanding the heart's potential for recovery. Reverse modeling and improved myocardial function are possible, which can lead to LVAD removal or even avoiding transplantation altogether.

The researchers said that while heart recovery did not occur often early after LVAD implantation, it did increase over time, with 80% occurring two years later.

Reference: Wever-Pinzon O, Drakos SG, McKellar SH, et al. Cardiac recovery during long-term left ventricular assist device support. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2016;68(14):1540-1553. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2016.07.743