This study states that Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) unloading and hemodynamic support in patients with advanced chronic heart failure can result in significant improvement in cardiac function allowing LVAD removal; however, the rate of this is generally considered to be low. This prospective multicenter nonrandomized study (RESTAGE-HF [Remission from Stage D Heart Failure]) investigated whether a protocol of optimized LVAD mechanical unloading, combined with standardized specific pharmacological therapy to induce reverse remodeling and regular testing of underlying myocardial function, could produce a higher incidence of LVAD explantation.

Forty patients with chronic advanced heart failure from nonischemic cardiomyopathy receiving the Heartmate II LVAD were enrolled from 6 centers. LVAD speed was optimized with an aggressive pharmacological regimen, and regular echocardiograms were performed at reduced LVAD speed (6000 rpm, no net flow) to test underlying myocardial function. The primary end point was the proportion of patients with sufficient improvement of myocardial function to reach criteria for explantation within 18 months with sustained remission from heart failure (freedom from transplant/ventricular assist device/death) at 12 months. Before LVAD, age was 35.1±10.8 years, 67.5% were men, heart failure mean duration was 20.8±20.6 months, 95% required inotropic and 20% temporary mechanical support, left ventricular ejection fraction was 14.5±5.3%, end-diastolic diameter.


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