New design heart pump reduces complications

15th December 2016

A new design of a heart pump used by people waiting for a heart transplant appears to reduce the risk of a blood clot developing on the pump.

The HeartMate 3 left ventricular assist device (LVAD) appears to stop this problem, one of the common adverse effects associated with the life-saving device, researchers have suggested.

Dr Mandeep Mehra, from the Harvard Medical School in Boston, presented the evidence to the American Heart Association’s annual scientific sessions.

He said: "The difference in adverse events in favour of HeartMate 3 was driven almost entirely by the lack of suspected or confirmed pump thrombosis with the new device compared with 18 such events in the Heart Mate II.”   The new device also appeared to reduce the risk stroke or the need to repair or replace the pump.

Dr Mehra said that 152 patients given the HeartMate 3 pump and 142 its forerunner. Only one person with the HeartMate 3 device required a re-operation or replacement of the pump, compared with 11 patients who received the HeartMate II.

He said patients, with advanced heart failure and severe physical limitations, also had similar survival, functional improvement, and quality of life with either pump.

In America people can have LVADs fitted while they wait for transplant or as a treatment (called destination therapy).  In the UK they are only available on the NHS for people waiting for a transplant.

The study looked at people aged 19 to 81 with the devices.  Most were men with coronary artery disease. Their mean left ventricular ejection fraction ( a measure of the heart’s pumping power) was 17%.  For a normal heart it is about 55%.

"We also have to recognize that most patients with heart failure are over 70, and it is not clear exactly where this therapy will fit when you look at the overall population of people with heart failure."

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