The clinical and cost-effectiveness of left ventricular assist devices for end-stage heart failure: a systematic review and economic evaluation

Clegg A J, Scott D A, Loveman E, Colquitt J, Hutchinson J, Royle P, Bryant J
Record ID 32006000005
Authors' objectives:

The aim of this report was to assess the clinical and cost-effectiveness of left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) as a bridge to heart transplantation (BTT), as a bridge to myocardial recovery (BTR) or as a long-term chronic support (LTCS) for people with end-stage heart failure (ESHF).

Authors' results and conclusions: Sixteen studies assessed the clinical effectiveness of LVADs as a BTT. Despite the poor methodological quality of the evidence, LVADs appeared beneficial compared to other treatment options (i.e. inotropic agents or usual care) or to no care (i.e. the natural history of ESHF) improving the survival of people with ESHF during the period of support and following heart transplantation. Patients supported by an LVAD appeared to have an improved functional status compared with those on usual care and experienced an improvement in their quality of life from before device implantation to the period during support. Serious adverse events are a risk for patients with an LVAD. With a scarcity of evidence directly comparing different devices, it is difficult to identify specific devices as the most clinically effective. The HeartMate LVAD is the only device that has evidence comparing it with the different alternatives, appearing to be more clinically effective than inotropic agents and usual care and as clinically effective as the Novacor device. Second generation devices, such as Jarvik 2000 and MicroMed Debakey LVADs, are early in their development but show considerable promise that should be assessed through long-term studies. Evidence of the clinical effectiveness of LVADs as a BTR was limited to seven non-comparative observational studies that appeared to show that the LVADs were beneficial in providing support until myocardial recovery. It was not possible to assess whether the LVADs are more effective than other alternatives or specific devices. No evidence was found on the quality of life or functional status of patients and limited information on adverse events was reported. Six studies assessed the clinical effectiveness of LVADs as an LTCS and from these it was evident that LVADs provided benefits in terms of improved survival, functional status and quality of life.
Authors' recommendations: Although the review showed that LVADs are clinically effective as a BTT with ESHF, the economic evaluation indicated that they are not cost-effective. With the limited and declining availability of donor hearts for transplantation, it appears that the future of the technology is in its use as an LTCS. Further research is needed to examine the clinical effectiveness of LVADs for people with ESHF, assessing patient survival, functional ability, quality of life and adverse events. Evaluations of the clinical effectiveness of LVADs should include economic evaluations, as well as data on quality of life, utilities, resources and costs. A systematic review of the epidemiology of ESHF should be undertaken to assess its potential impact.
Authors' methods: Systematic review, Economic evaluation
Project Status: Completed
URL for project:
Year Published: 2005
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: England, United Kingdom
MeSH Terms
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Heart-Assist Devices
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left
Organisation Name: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme
Contact Address: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK
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Copyright: 2009 Queen's Printer and Controller of HMSO
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