Reversal of Severe Heart Failure With a Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Device and Pharmacological Therapy
A Prospective Study
Background—We have previously shown that a specific combination of drug therapy and left ventricular assist device unloading results in significant myocardial recovery, sufficient to allow pump removal, in two thirds of patients with dilated cardiomyopathy receiving a Heartmate I pulsatile device. However, this protocol has not been used with nonpulsatile devices.
Methods and Results—We report the results of a prospective study of 20 patients who received a combination of angiotensin-converting enzymes, β-blockers, angiotensin II inhibitors, and aldosterone antagonists followed by the β2-agonist clenbuterol and were regularly tested (echocardiograms, exercise tests, catheterizations) with the pump at low speed. Before left ventricular assist device insertion, patient age was 35.2±12.6 years (16 male patients), patients were on 2.0±0.9 inotropes, 7 (35%) had an intra-aortic balloon pump, 2 were hemofiltered, 2 were ventilated, 3 had a prior Levitronix device, and 1 had extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Cardiac index was 1.39±0.43 L · min−1 · m−2, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure was 31.5±5.7 mm Hg, and heart failure history was 3.4±3.5 years. One patient was lost to follow-up and died after 240 days of support. Of the remaining 19 patients, 12 (63.2%) were explanted after 286±97 days. Eight had symptomatic heart failure for ≤6 months and 4 for >6 months (48 to 132 months). Before explantation, at low flow for 15 minutes, ejection fraction was 70±7%, left ventricular end-diastolic diameter was 48.6±5.7 mm, left ventricular end-systolic diameter was 32.3±5.7 mm, mV̇o2 was 21.6±4 mL · kg−1 · min−1, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure was 5.9±4.6 mm Hg, and cardiac index was 3.6±0.6 L · min−1 · m−2. Estimated survival without heart failure recurrence was 83.3% at 1 and 3 years. After a 430.7±337.1-day follow-up, surviving explants had an ejection fraction of 58.1±13.8%, left ventricular end-diastolic diameter of 59.0±9.3 mm, left ventricular end-systolic diameter of 42.0±10.7 mm, and mV̇o2 of 22.6±5.3 mL · kg−1 · min−1.
Conclusions—Reversal of end-stage heart failure secondary to nonischemic cardiomyopathy can be achieved in a substantial proportion of patients with nonpulsatile flow through the use of a combination of mechanical and pharmacological therapy.
- Received December 24, 2009.
- Accepted November 1, 2010.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.