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October 9, 2008

Heart assist device approved for non-transplant cases

UPMC has received the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for ventricular assist device (VAD) support for destination therapy, which is heart support for patients with end-stage heart disease who are not candidates for heart transplantation. Previously, VADs primarily were used as a bridge to heart transplant, but as clinical experience has demonstrated, they have become a viable treatment option for those patients with end-stage heart disease without compromising quality of life.

The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval is considered the highest achievement of quality and compliance.

Robert Kormos, professor of surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine and director of the UPMC artificial heart program, said: “As the pumps continue to get smaller, that also translates to shorter hospital stays, shorter recovery time and better overall quality of life.”

Since the artificial heart program was developed in 1985, more than 450 patients have been supported with some type of mechanical circulatory device, many of whom went on to receive heart transplants and are still alive today.

Heart pumps are used in patients whose hearts are failing, but are not suitable candidates for heart transplantation, due to age or other conditions. They support the heart by reducing cardiac workload and allowing the heart to rest. In some instances, heart pumps also can be used as a “bridge to heart transplantation,” until a suitable organ can be found.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 41 Issue 4

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