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Left Ventricular Assist Devices

Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are implantable devices that provide mechanical support to patients whose hearts are too weak to pump blood effectively. These small, mechanical pumps take over the function of the left ventricle and ensure proper blood flow through the body. Since they became available 15 years ago, LVADs have undergone many advances and improvements, and are now smaller, quieter, and more comfortable than the first generation devices.

person holds an older, larger LVAD next to a newer, smaller one
Comparison of larger LVAD to newer, smaller device.
(photo: Charles Manley)

NewYork-Presbyterian Advances LVAD Use

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia's Mechanical Circulatory Support Program is among the busiest programs in the nation and its physician-scientists are committed to improving LVAD technology and to extending LVAD availability to more patients, including small adults and children. The program's researchers are leaders in the implantation, development, and study of LVADs, both as bridge-to-transplantation and as destination therapy.

LVADs Prolong Survival

LVADs can significantly extend and improve the quality of life for heart failure patients who are awaiting heart transplantation (called "bridge to transplantation"). In patients who are not eligible for heart transplantation, cardiologists may leave an LVAD in place indefinitely (called "destination therapy").

In the landmark REMATCH (Randomized Evaluation of Mechanical Assistance for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure) trial of patients with end-stage heart failure researchers found:

  • patients who received an LVAD device had a 52.1% chance of surviving a year, compared with a 24.7% survival rate for patients who took drugs and were medically monitored.
  • the likelihood of survival after two years was 22.9% for the LVAD patients versus 8.1% for those receiving medical therapies.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared the outcome of new generation continuous axial flow pumps to older models (i.e. Heartmate II to the Heartmate XVE) in destination patients. The study demonstrated a 46% survival at 2 years versus 11% with the first generation device.

Patients in the study who received the LVAD also reported significant improvements in their quality of life.


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