Left ventricular assist device therapy in advanced heart failure: patient selection and outcomes.
Despite improvements in pharmacological therapy and pacing, prognosis in advanced heart failure (HF) remains poor, with a 1-year mortality of 25-50%. While heart transplantation provides excellent survival and quality of life for eligible patients, only a few can be offered this treatment due to shortage of donor organs. Implantable left ventricular assist device (LVAD) technology has improved considerably, and the currently used continuous flow devices may last >10 years in a patient. LVADs are being used increasingly both as bridge-to-transplantation and as destination therapy. Current studies report 1- and 2-year survival after LVAD implantation of 80% and 70%, respectively. Outcome after LVAD implantation in stable patients is superior to that of 'crash and burn' patients or patients sliding on inotropes, favouring early referral and implantation. This review summarizes factors to consider when deciding on LVAD implantation such as age, co-morbidity, and cardiac pathophysiology. Complications to LVAD therapy are reviewed. It is concluded that while complications with LVAD therapy are not uncommon, most are manageable, and current outcomes clearly justify use of LVADs in advanced HF.