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Novel Left Ventricular Assist Device Could Provide Alternative Treatment Option to Cardiac Transplantation

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 12 Mar 2024
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Image: The novel LVAD could also offer an alternative treatment option to long-term support in end-stage heart failure (Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech)
Image: The novel LVAD could also offer an alternative treatment option to long-term support in end-stage heart failure (Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech)

In the United States, heart failure affects nearly seven million people, with about 400,000 deaths annually related to the condition. It often leads to reduced mobility, diminished quality of life, and inability to work, thus presenting a substantial public health care challenge. Heart failure is a deteriorating disease, and no effective treatment exists for its end stage. While cardiac transplantation remains the sole option for many, the scarcity of donor hearts is a significant limitation. Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) heart pumps offer a vital alternative, aiding patients with end-stage heart failure in maintaining blood circulation. LVAD implantation, however, is not without its complications. These include infection, blood clotting (thrombosis), stroke, and bleeding, largely attributed to blood damage by the implanted devices. These issues often necessitate invasive surgeries. Another major concern with current LVADs is the percutaneous drivelines used for powering the device. These drivelines, penetrating the skin, can lead to infections, rehospitalizations, and further surgeries. Additionally, they limit patient mobility, adversely affecting their quality of life.

Now, a multi-institutional research project led by the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA, USA) aims to develop an innovative LVAD as a treatment alternative to cardiac transplantation and as long-term support in end-stage heart failure. This project aims to rectify the shortcomings of existing LVADs, thereby making the therapy more efficient and less invasive. The proposed device enhancements aim to reduce blood damage, blood clot formation, and complications from drivelines, such as infection and mobility restrictions. The research team combines interdisciplinary expertise, encompassing advanced engineering designs, antithrombotic slippery hydrophilic (SLIC) coatings, wireless power transfer systems, and magnetically levitated driving mechanisms, along with extensive preclinical testing. Upon completion, following clinical trials and regulatory approvals, this new LVAD could offer a significantly less invasive long-term support option for heart failure patients. This SLIC LVAD holds promise not only for civilian use but also for benefiting military personnel and veterans. Additionally, many of the groundbreaking technologies developed, like wireless power transfer for medical devices and antithrombotic coatings, have potential applications beyond this specific project.

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