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Device Maker, Heart Institute Fund Cardiac Device Study

Human heart and arteries (Yale School of Medicine/Wikimedia Commons)

(Yale School of Medicine/Wikimedia Commons)

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and HeartWare, a developer of left ventricular assist devices in Framingham, Massachusetts, have awarded $13.3 million to two universities explore the potential of heart devices for people with heart failure. NHLBI is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and the University of Pittsburgh will study the impact of earlier access to left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) that support the circulation of patients with failing hearts. In the study, researchers will test if patients with heart failure less advanced than that of current LVAD recipients and not eligible for a heart transplant, do better with implanted devices than with current medical therapy.

For most patients, either a past heart attack or certain conditions such as hypertension, heart muscle diseases, abnormal heart valves, or diabetes has lead to heart failure. LVADs are currently used in patients with very advanced heart failure as a last resort to help them survive the wait for a heart transplant, or serve as a permanent alternative to heart transplantation.

The study device will be HeartWare’s LVAD, a battery-operated continuous blood flow pump that’s surgically placed in the heart and the surrounding space with the fluid that lubricates the membrane surfaces and allows easy heart movement. The pilot study will include 100 patients from selected hospitals across the United States, including the universities of Michigan and Pittsburgh.

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