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January 7, 2011

HMII Left Ventricular Assist System now available at UVA brings new hope for people with heart failure

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An acute cardiomyopathy sends a new mom to the brink of death, a Redskins fan with heart failure is sidelined by his illness and a heart condition keeps a hunting enthusiast from the activity he loves most. What all three of these patients seen at the University of Virginia Health System have in common is that they now have the Thoratec® HeartMateII® Left Ventricular Assist System (LVAS). The device has been approved by the FDA for people with advanced heart failure and who require long-term support. HMIILVAS is available at UVA Health System, which is now a certified destination therapy site for the use of this device. Today, the new mom is enjoying her baby, the Redskins fan is back to tailgating during the NFL season and the hunter is back to enjoying the outdoors.

“This latest iteration of the HeartMate® LVAS is much smaller and is a good fit for more people, such as teens and those with small adult statures,” says Dr. John Kern, associate professor of surgery in the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at UVA Health System. “It’s exciting because it brings new hope to untold numbers of people slowly dying from heart failure.”

When a person experiences heart failure it could be from the culmination of more

HeartMateII The Thoratec® HeartMateII® Left Ventricular Assist System

than 50 different types of heart conditions affecting various areas, including: heart chambers, heart valves, coronary arteries, the heart’s electrical system, the heart’s lining and the heart muscle itself. HMIILVAS is a pump that brings back the normal circulation of blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. It has helped severely incapacitated people resume their normal lives.

“Before, LVAS was a bridge to heart transplantation, but there are limited numbers of available hearts and not all people are good candidates to receive a donation. Now, we can prolong the lives of people with heart failure by two to five years and perhaps even longer,” Kern adds.

And becoming a certified destination therapy site means that patients receiving LVAS from Virginia and beyond can receive the best coordinated care possible from a team of physicians, surgeons, nurses, and clinical and social work practitioners. This past fall, the heart failure team at UVA Health System anticipated the direction in which LVAS devices were moving and sought accreditation from the Joint Commission, which provides advanced certification for ventricular assist devices for destination therapy. These steps are only the beginning, according to Kern.

“Now we can continue to acquire data and knowledge about the device and witness the real-world implications for the 500,000 Americans who are diagnosed with heart failure each year. It can only get better from here.”

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