Published: Nov. 2, 2009
Updated: Dec. 23, 2009
Duke cardiologist Joseph Rogers, MD, and colleagues are defining the best strategies to help heart failure patients.
Nearly six million Americans are living with heart failure -- when the heart can't adequately do its job of pumping blood through the body.
Patients with heart failure tend to be very limited in their physical abilities, and as the disease progresses, breathlessness and fatigue can occur even at rest.
The good news is that we’ve seen dramatic improvements in the treatment of heart failure in the past decade.
At the advanced stage -- affecting about 150,000 Americans -- medications typically become ineffective and heart transplantation is not a treatment option for most.
We have recently learned that these patients can benefit a great deal through permanent implantation of a long-term left ventricular assist device (LVAD), which works to pump blood more efficiently through the body.* Duke has been a leading center in this research.
At Duke we have the critical components of a top-tier program: outstanding doctors, a team approach, close collaboration with our colleagues in heart surgery and heart rhythm disorders, a dedication to advancing our knowledge of heart failure through research, and a passion for understanding and treating the unique aspects of each patient’s disease.
Also, Duke is one of the vanguard centers of the Heart Failure Research Network, a consortium of institutions providing insights into new treatments for heart failure.
I believe that the next step in the evolution of this field is placement of mechanical blood pumps into heart failure patients earlier in their illness to extend quality years of life.
Another potential for this technology is its use as a platform to test new heart failure therapies -- such as stem cell therapy -- that would promote recovery of the heart and eventual removal of the pump. Through our focus on clinical care and research, Duke will continue to find novel therapies to treat patients with this disease.
Only 68 places in the United States offer destination LVAD therapy for advanced heart failure. Duke is one of them.
*Dr. Rogers presented these findings on November 17 at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2009.