The objective of this health technology policy assessment was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of using implantable ventricular assist devices in the treatment of end-stage heart failure.
Heart failure is a complex syndrome that impairs the ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood circulation, resulting in multiorgan abnormalities and, eventually, death. In the period of 1994 to 1997, 38,702 individuals in Ontario had a first hospital admission for heart failure. Despite reported improvement in survival, the five-year mortality rate for heart failure is about 50%.
Ventricular assist devices [VADs] have been developed to provide circulatory assistance to patients with end-stage heart failure. These are small pumps that usually assist the damaged left ventricle [LVADs] and may be situated within the body (intracorporeal] or outside the body [extracorporeal). Some of these devices were designed for use in the right ventricle [RVAD] or both ventricles (bi-ventricular). LVADs have been mainly used as a «bridge-to-transplant» for patients on a transplant waiting list. As well, they have been used as a » bridge-to-recovery» in acute heart failure, but this experience is limited. There has been an increasing interest in using LVAD as a permanent (destination) therapy.