NEW ORLEANS – HeartMate 3, the latest left ventricular assist device in the HeartMate line, appears to have solved the problem of pump thrombosis, a complication that has dogged ventricular pumps since the issue leapt into medical awareness about 3 years ago ( ).
During 6 months of follow-up, none of 152 heart failure patients assigned to receive a HeartMate 3 left ventricular assist device (LVAD) developed suspected or confirmed pump thrombosis, compared with 14 patients (10%) having pump thrombosis out of 138 recipients of the prior-generation HeartMate II LVAD who served as the control group for the study.
“Three years ago, when the issue of pump thrombosis was first revealed, there was a lot of consternation and some drop in LVAD use, especially as destination therapy. We think that seeing no pump thrombosis whatsoever will give people renewed confidence in this technology,” said Dr. Mehra, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both in Boston.
Pump thrombosis has also been a problem for the patients who have received a competitor LVAD, the HeartWare HVAD device (), for U.S. use as bridge to transplant. HeartMate II is for both bridge to transplant and for destination therapy.
In addition to apparently eliminating pump thrombosis, HeartMate 3’s size and potential implantation approach should make its placement during routine use as quick and minimally invasive as the HeartWare device, features that should further help broader use of HeartMate 3, commented Mark Slaughter, MD, professor and chairman of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the University of Louisville (Ky.). But Dr. Slaughter and others were also quick to highlight the shortcomings that remain with both devices that will continue to hamper a broader role for LVAD treatment of patients with advanced heart failure.
“We thought that if there was less pump thrombosis we’d see less stroke, but that is not what the data suggest. It’s the big puzzle we need to figure out before we see widespread acceptance of this treatment,” Dr. Sweitzer said.
“This will not shift LVAD use substantially,” commented, a professor of medicine and a heart failure specialist at Duke University, Durham, N.C. “Reducing the need for reoperation is good for the field, and is an incremental advance, but it is not transformational,” he said in an interview.
The(Multicenter Study of MagLev Technology in Patients Undergoing Mechanical Circulatory Support Therapy with HeartMate 3) trial randomized 294 patients at 69 U.S. centers. The study’s primary endpoint of 6-month survival free from disabling stroke or reoperation to repair or replace the LVAD occurred in 86% of 152 patients who received a HeartMate 3 and 77% of 142 patients randomized to HeartMate II, a statistical difference that met the prespecified criteria for both noninferiority and superiority. Concurrently with Dr. Mehra’s report at the meeting, a journal article appeared online (New Engl J Med. 2016 Nov 16. ). He stated that as far as he understood, St. Jude would submit the 6-month data he reported to the Food and Drug Administration in an application for marketing approval for HeartMate 3.
“I agree that there are still morbid evens [with HeartMate 3] that need to be surmounted, but this is a confidence-building step in the right direction,” Dr. Mehra said.