People with restrictive cardiomyopathy can benefit from heart pumps

31st July 2015

People with severe restrictive cardiomyopathy can benefit from left ventricular assist devices, says a new study from a leading heart centre in America.

The Mayo Clinic study showed improved survival and fewer complications in people with severe restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) whether they went on to have a heart transplant or not.

The devices, called LVADs for short, are powerful mechanical blood pumps that increase the output of the heart’s left ventricle (a lower pumping chamber of the heart).  They are usually given to people waiting for heart transplants. Sometimes they can be given to people as a permanent treatment, but this is not currently available on the NHS in the UK.

LVAD

Advanced heart failure due to any cause may be suitable for treatment with an LVAD but mostly the devices are currently used in those with enlarged ventricles and poor heart contraction.

In cardiomyopathy, most LVAD clinical trials have focused on the dilated form of the disease. However, Mayo Clinic researchers wanted to see if LVADs similarly benefited people with advanced restrictive cardiomyopathy, who face few treatment options other than a heart transplant.

The retrospective study, the largest of its kind, looked at 28 patients with severe RCM who were given a continuous-flow LVAD between January 2008 and August 2013, while they waited for a transplant or were not heart transplant candidates. Mayo Clinic cardiologists studied each patient’s preoperative data, short-term postoperative events, and long-term results. The research team reported improved survival rates and fewer complications in patients who received an LVAD device, whether they had eventually received a heart transplant or not.

The study, which was conducted by Mayo Clinic specialists in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery and the Department of Health Sciences Research, was published in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation