Treatment at Every Stage of Heart Failure

The Penn heart failure and transplantation program is among the largest in the country. Penn is following more than 3,500 heart failure patients and more than 639 heart transplant patients. Penn offers a wide range of preventive, diagnostic, medical and surgical options to address the pathology of cardiovascular disease. These include advanced programs for patients at every stage of heart failure, including end-stage disease.

Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) for End-Stage Heart Failure

In the United States, there are far fewer hearts available for transplantation than patients living with end-stage heart failure. To offer options to these gravely ill patients, Penn Medicine has become a national leader in the development and use of ventricular assist devices (VADs).

VADs permit several approaches to treatment as:

  • Bridge-to-transplant therapy, VADs enable patients to survive until a donor heart becomes available.
  • Destination therapy, VADs offer life-long support for the failing heart.
  • Bridge-to-recovery, VADs used to "rest" the native heart over a period of weeks to months, and is then removed. This holds the promise of permitting other treatments to restore the native heart to full function, avoiding the need for transplant.

The New Horizon: Destination Therapy

Penn Medicine is the region's leading advocate for the use of ventricular assist devices (VADs) that have dramatically altered the prospects for patients in end-stage heart failure. VADs can be used as destination therapy, which is an alternative for those who are not candidates for heart transplantation.

The advantages of the latest generation of VADs include a greatly decreased risk of infection, greater reliability and durability, and smaller sizes to enhance suitability for smaller adults and children. The devices currently available at Penn represent an inventory of the world's most sophisticated VADs, and a glimpse of what the future holds for end-stage heart failure and heart transplantation patients.

Types of Mechanical Circulatory Support Devices Available at Penn

Penn Heart & Vascular offers a variety of VADs and other mechanical circulatory support devices. At Penn, heart failure patients of nearly every age, size and gender will find suitable devices for their condition. The following list represents the VADs currently available at Penn Medicine:

Devices available as a bridge to transplant

These devices enable patients to survive until a donor heart becomes available:

  • Syncardia CardioWest™ Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t)
  • HeartWare® Ventricular Assist System
  • Thoratec™ Paracorporeal Blood Pumping System
  • HeartMate II® LVAD
  • HeartMate III LVAD *
  • MVAD Trial *

Devices available as destination therapy

These devices offer patients life-long support for their heart failure:

  • HeartMate II® LVAD
  • HeartMate III LVAD *
  • HeartWare® Ventricular Assist System*
    • Also available as destination therapy as part of the ENDURANCE trial.
  • MVAD Trial *
  • Levitronix® Centrimag® VAS
  • Impella
  • Tandem Heart

*Investigational Device

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