Ventracor’s VentrAssist™ is leading the world in third generation implantable Left Ventricular Assist Systems (LVAS). Due to low and already decreasing organ donation numbers, VentrAssist offers affordable long term therapy to sufferers of congestive heart failure. An estimated 11.2 million people already suffer from congestive heart failure worldwide, with numbers growing by 10% each year. For at least 1 million of these people, a life expectancy of less than one year can be expected. Unfortunately, no drugs in the known pharmaceutical world can cure this disorder. Currently, a heart transplant is the only definitive long term treatment for sufferers of congestive heart failure. However, only 3000 patients a year are able to receive a heart transplant. Donor hearts are hard to come by, as are patients fit enough to receive them.

VentrAssist™ is a new third generation cardiac assist system primarily designed as a permanent alternative to heart transplants for patients suffering heart failure. VentrAssist™ is leading the world due to a principal design feature involving only one moving part – the patented hydrodynamically suspended impeller. Consequently, there is no wear and tear on any of VentrAssist’sTM components, resulting in a potentially unlimited life. This state-of-the-art design places VentrAssist™ clearly at the forefront of implantable ventricular assist devices.

The blood pump connects to the left ventricle of a diseased heart, supporting the ailing heart’s pumping function and assisting to restore a better quality of life. Pre-clinical tests have demonstrated that the unique VentrAssist™ LVAS achieves clinically insignificant blood damage or clotting, which indicates that little to no antiplatelet agents may be required. Previous artificial heart devices have been subject to mechanical failure, mainly as a result of blood clots, which not only jam the mechanism but can also cause infections.

The lightweight (298 g) and small size (60 mm diameter) of the VentrAssist™ LVAS device enables it to be used in both children and adults, as it is possible to place the device in either the thoracic cavity or preperitoneal space. The VentrAssist™ LVAS has the potential to become as commonplace and reliable as pacemakers. Its unique rotary design, reminiscent of a top loading washing machine, can be a permanent fixture or a temporary assistant to heart action, permitting fatigued hearts to rest and repair. Also, the no bearing friction means no localised heating.

The implanted parts of the VentrAssist™ system utilise biocompatible materials including titanium alloys. All components are light, strong, non-toxic and highly resistant to degradation within the body. The VentrAssist™ is an outstanding advance over older heart assist devices. Other design features of the VentrAssist™ device are hermetically sealed implantable pump housing, thin percutaneous lead with low infection risk, automatic regulation of pump output based on varying levels of patient activity, highly efficient mechanical and electrical design resulting in fewer battery changes, and an implant procedure no more difficult than conventional open-heart surgery.

Currently, the VentrAssist™ LVAS device is extremely expensive, however if it could be mass-produced in the future, the device would become more affordable and the mortality rate of CHF patients could be significantly reduced.