Heart failure is a chronic disease process that will progressively worsen. The definitive answer to advanced heart failure is heart transplantation. However, there are a shortage of donor hearts worldwide in comparison with the number of patients who would benefit from transplantation. A viable alternative is to implant a left ventricular assist device, a so-called artificial heart. This device can take over the function of the failing heart and provide the patient with a reasonable quality of life.
Technological breakthroughs have enable minaturization of the device and the current version is the HeartMate II LVAD which is small enough to be implanted into smaller adults, especially women and Asians. It is an axial flow device which means it has few moving parts and in a recent randomized controlled study, it was shown to be superior in terms of durability and complication rate when compared to a pump of an older design. It is very quiet in operation and is implanted into the abdominal cavity. It is ideal for patients who have advanced heart failure and who are dependent on inotropes or who have frequent hospitalizations for heart failure.