Robert Kormos, MDThere is new data that show the HeartMate 3™ heart pump extends survival of advanced heart failure patients by at least five years, providing a clear life-saving option for people battling later stage heart disease. The HeartMate 3 heart pump Full MagLev™ technology was developed by researchers (James Antaki, PhD; Harvey Borovetz, PhD) at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

When McGowan Institute affiliated faculty member Robert Kormos, MD (pictured), a cardiothoracic surgeon, began his career 30 years ago, he would dream of extending the lives of his patients who were often battling advanced heart failure. Now, serving as division vice president of medical device company Abbott, that is no longer a dream.

“For me as a surgeon, this dream has now been met,” Dr. Kormos, a former McGowan Institute deputy director and the past director of UPMC’s Artificial Heart Program, said. He has been part of the education of over 100 residents and 60 Cardiothoracic Transplant Fellows.

More than 6.2 million Americans have heart failure, with diagnoses projected to double by 2030. Abbott’s HeartMate 3 heart pump is an implantable device that pumps blood through the body in people whose heart is too weak to do so on its own. It is the only commercially approved heart pump with Full MagLev technology, which allows the device’s rotor to be “suspended” by magnetic forces, a unique design that has been proven to reduce trauma to blood passing through the pump, improving patient survival and quality of life. These factors along with its ability to produce an artificial pulse, results in the lowest rate of pump-related complications of any other blood pump.

The data presented are from the MOMENTUM 3 trial, the world’s largest randomized clinical trial to assess long-term outcomes in people receiving a left ventricular assist device (known as an LVAD, or heart pump) to treat advanced heart failure. The data were communicated during a late-breaking session at the 2022 European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The MOMENTUM 3 trial studied more than 1000 patients and for the first time in a clinical trial setting found that people with advanced heart failure who received the HeartMate 3 heart pump lived beyond five years. The study showcases the significant benefits of Abbott’s heart pump technology, particularly in a patient population who – without a heart pump or transplant – would have limited therapy options or would require living with inotropic medication to help strengthen their heart function, limiting their median survival to less than a year.

“It’s important to understand that the reason this device is so successful is because it reduced the mortality from complications that typically end people’s lives with heart pumps,” Dr. Kormos said. “That was greatly reduced in this trial compared to other trials and in the HeartMate II, and that includes blood clots forming in the pump, thrombosis, it includes stroke and bleeding.”

“The MOMENTUM 3 study proves that the HeartMate 3 heart pump has significantly moved the needle in terms of options for increasing life expectancy for our most advanced heart failure patients,” said Divya Gupta, MD, medical director of Advanced Heart Failure and Heart Transplantation at Emory Healthcare. “This research shows strong consideration should be given for this life-extending therapy for the thousands of people who are in advanced heart failure and meet the indications for the HeartMate 3.”

Heart pumps: a life-extending option for thousands

Historically, many advanced heart failure patients who don’t qualify for a heart transplant rely on medication or are referred to palliative care to manage symptoms, but newer technological advancements like HeartMate 3 can provide this population another life-prolonging option. The benefits of heart pumps are especially true for the estimated 15,000 advanced heart failure patients whose median lifespan is under a year because they are on inotropic medication alone. While some of these patients await a donor heart, due to a limited number of organs available, heart pumps like the HeartMate 3 can improve survival while offering immediate, significant, and sustained quality of life.

The latest MOMENTUM 3 data also demonstrate that the five-year survival for HeartMate 3 patients (nearly 60%) is approaching the five-year survival rates of heart transplant recipients who have a similar risk profile.

Armed with these results, the company will work to educate physicians, patients, and hospital administrators about the benefits of the HeartMate 3. For hospital administrators, the message will be about cost management, Dr. Kormos said. Reimbursement of the device is dependent on local market factors and a 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 you make them mobile, which this does, then that reduces the chronic rehospitalization from heart failure.”

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

“What’s concerning to me is that regionally across the United States, the use of this therapy is not uniform,” Dr. Kormos said. “In other words, look at the population of patients that get these devices: only about 30% of them are African American or Black. We know that the utilization 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 the utilization of these therapies.”

“The finding that the HeartMate 3 device can reliably add years to one’s life is compelling evidence for all cardiologists to evaluate their patients with progressive heart failure for this therapy,” said Daniel J. Goldstein, MD, surgical director, Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Cardiac Transplantation at Montefiore Medical Center. “Earlier referral and intervention are critical for this population where it can be challenging to make an accurate diagnosis from physical symptoms alone. The latest MOMENTUM trial data help contextualize the benefits of heart pumps and will help more physicians work with their patients to explore this life-enhancing and life-prolonging alternative as their disease moves into the territory of advanced heart failure.”

Read more…

Abbott Laboratories News Release