Image of heart and circulatory system

Image of the heart and circulatory system

When Dr. Robert Kormos, a cardiothoracic surgeon, began his career 30 years ago, he would dream of extending the lives of his patients, who often struggle with advanced heart failure. Now, as a divisional vice president of medical device company Abbott, that’s no longer a dream.

Newly released data from Chicago-based Abbott shows that his HeartMate 3 heart pump does exactly what he dreamed it would: the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) extends survival by at least five years for patients with advanced heart failure.

“For me as a surgeon, that dream has already come true,” Kormos said.

The data comes from the MOMENTUM 3 study, which examined more than 1,000 patients in what Abbott bills as the largest randomized clinical trial of patients living with an LVAD. Abbott received Food and Drug Administration approval for the HeartMate 3 in 2018, but was asked to follow patients for five years, Kormos said. Patients in the study were randomized to either the HeartMate 3 or Abbott’s older heart pump, the HeartMate II.

This is the first LVAD trial to examine five-year outcomes and surpasses Abbott’s previous HeartMate 3 trial, which recorded a survival time of two years. The study also found that the HeartMate 3 had an improved survival rate of 58%, compared to 44% with the HeartMate II. In addition, the device reduced morbidity and mortality compared to the HeartMate II. This is largely due to a reduction in deaths from stroke, clotting and bleeding.

“It’s important to understand that the reason this device has been so successful is that it has reduced the death rate from complications that usually end the lives of people with heart pumps,” Kormos said. “It was significantly reduced in this trial compared to other trials and in the HeartMate II, and that includes blood clots in the pump, thrombosis, includes stroke and bleeding.”

He added that the findings were significant because the population of people the study was conducted on would not survive more than nine months in most cases. A heart pump is not only a short-term option for those waiting for a transplant, but also a long-term option for those who are not eligible for a transplant.

Other companies in the heart pump device market include Abiomedes, Medtronic and Teleflex IncorporatedAccording to Markets and markets. But one unique advantage of the HeartMate 3 is that it sits in the chest cavity where the heart is, so surgeons don’t have to create additional areas to implant the device, Kormos said.

Armed with these results, the company will work to educate doctors, patients and hospital administrators about the benefits of the HeartMate 3. For hospital administrators, the message will be about cost management, Kormos said. Device reimbursement depends on local market factors and the patient’s insurance plan.

“We need to educate and make sure that hospital administrators understand that this is a cost-effective therapy,” he said. “It keeps people out of the hospital. If you fix their heart failure and get them mobile, which it does, then that reduces chronic heart failure rehospitalization.

He added that while the study shows promising results for the HeartMate 3, work needs to be done to make use equitable across all populations.

“What worries me is that regionally in the United States, the use of this therapy is not uniform,” Kormos said. “In other words, look at the population of patients who receive these devices: only about 30% of them are African American or black. We know that the use of this type of therapy in the South is not as great as it is in, say, the Northeast … So we have some work to do in terms of the equity of using these therapies.

Magicmine, Getty Images

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