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Vanderbilt first in Tennessee to implant novel heart support device

Oct. 21, 2015, 10:22 AM

As part of its ongoing commitment to provide excellent care for heart failure patients in Tennessee and the Southeastern U.S., Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute recently became the first medical center in the state to implant the HeartMate 3, a novel mechanical circulatory support device.

Vanderbilt Heart is currently one of 60 select centers chosen to evaluate the HeartMate 3, a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), as part of the MOMENTUM 3 trial, which is expected to enroll more than 1,000 patients nationwide.

The Thoratec® HeartMate 3™ LVAD is an implantable mechanical device that helps circulate blood throughout the body. Like other LVADs, it is designed to supplement the pumping function of the heart for patients whose hearts are too weak to pump blood adequately on their own.

The HeartMate 3 utilizes full magnetic levitation technology, enabling the pump to change speeds rapidly and to create a small pulse every two seconds.  The device utilizes different technology compared to commercially available pumps such as the HeartMate 2, which provides constant, continuous flow.

Investigators hope that the enhanced technology with added pulsatility will decrease complications and improve quality of life in patients implanted with LVADs.

“The HeartMate 3 represents the newest generation of durable heart assist devices. Its compact size and novel design features represent an important step in improving the lives of our patients,” said cardiac surgeon Ashish Shah, M.D., Vanderbilt Heart’s surgical director of Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support.

The MOMENTUM 3 Clinical Trial is designed to evaluate the performance and safety of the HeartMate 3 compared to the HeartMate 2 over a 24-month period on support.  Patients who are listed for heart transplant, as well as those not eligible for transplant but who have severe heart failure symptoms, may be enrolled in the study.

Nearly 6 million people in the U.S. are afflicted with congestive heart failure.

“While the number of patients being diagnosed with advanced heart failure continues to rise, the number of donor hearts has remained stagnant, making LVADs an important adjunct to transplantation to improve survival and quality of life,” said site principal investigator, Mary Keebler, M.D., medical director of Vanderbilt Heart’s Ventricular Assist Device Program.

“Vanderbilt Heart is proud to be a part of the MOMENTUM3 study,” Keebler said. “LVAD technology has evolved significantly over the past 15 years, but complications still occur. There is still room for improvement. Along with other investigators in the trial, we hope the HeartMate 3 will be a step in the right direction, improving quality of life for patients with advanced heart failure.”

Mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation require close collaboration between cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. At Vanderbilt Heart, the cardiology team works closely with the surgical mechanical support and heart transplant team, led by Shah, who joined the team from Johns Hopkins in September, and Matthew Danter, M.D.

“I am extremely proud of the congestive heart failure group in enabling Vanderbilt to continue to be a leader in the country in VAD and transplant, and the No. 1 program in Tennessee,” said Michael Petracek, M.D., chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Surgery.

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