New heart pumps may allow tailored treatment

13th February 2017

A new generation of heart pumps called left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have shown some advantages over earlier models but also some shortfalls, says new trial evidence.

Two large trials have compared data from the traditional heart pump, the HeartMate2, with two new pumps, the HeartMate3 (pictured) and the HeartWare, which operate differently. 


The studies showed risks varied in the different devices, including for stroke, device malfunction and two year survival rates.

Heart pumps are used in people with severe heart failure who are awaiting a heart transplant or sometimes as an on-going treatment. In the UK, they are only used in the NHS in people waiting for a transplant.

Researcher Dr Joseph Rogers, from the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina, told Heartwire that the prospect of having more heart pumps on the market might enable doctors to better match an LVAD to a patient’s specific characteristics, such as their risk of bleeding, stroke or infection.

He said: "It's always difficult to have one treatment option for patients. I think now, as we expand this field a bit and we get greater experience with different kinds of pumps in different patient populations, we may be able to do this in a much more intelligent, patient-centric way.”

The HeartMate 2 is an axial flow pump and the newer models centrifugal pumps.  The difference is in how the rotating parts of the pump move blood forward. In an axial pump rotating parts act like a propeller and push the fluid forward.  In a centrifugal pump the rotating parts capture the fluid and throw outward, using centrifugal force.

Cardiomyopathy UK's cardiomyopathy support nurse Robert Hall said: “These are interesting studies as heart pumps provide an invaluable bridge to eventual transplant in patients with severe symptoms."

For more details, see here.