The introduction of the heart lung machine more than 50 years ago proved in principle that heart function can be replaced, albeit for short periods. This was followed by attempts to produce total or partial artificial hearts that could function for prolonged periods of time. Progress in this field has been intermittent but has accelerated considerably in the past 10 years, with ventricular assist devices (VADs) reaching an impressive degree of sophistication and complexity owing to the contributions from clinicians, engineers, scientists, industrialists, and others. This review describes the currently available types of VADs, their current clinical use, the patient selection process, the trend toward use of VADs in patients with less severe heart failure, and the use of VADs for myocardial recovery in combination with novel pharmacological strategies, gene therapy, and cell therapy.
- Heart failure