Mechanical Circulatory Support for the Failing Heart: Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Devices

Ochsner J. 2016 Fall;16(3):263-9.


Background: Heart transplantation remains the definitive therapy for patients with advanced heart failure; however, owing to limited donor organ availability and long wait times, continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have become standard therapy.

Methods: This review summarizes the history, progression, function, and basic management of LVADs. Additionally, we provide some clinical pearls and important caveats for managing this unique patient population.

Results: Currently, the most common LVADs being implanted in the United States are second- and third-generation devices, the HeartMate II (Thoratec Corp., St. Jude Medical) and the HeartWare HVAD (HeartWare International, Inc.). A newer third-generation pump, the HeartMate III (Thoratec Corp., St. Jude Medical), is designed to create an artificial pulse and is currently under investigation in the United States.

Conclusion: LVAD use is promising, will continue to grow, and has become standard therapy for advanced heart failure as a bridge to recovery, as destination therapy, and as a bridge to transplantation.

Keywords: Heart-assist devices; heart failure.

Publication types

  • Review