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Montefiore in the News

July 21, 2011

Replacement Heart Serves as Bridge to Transplant for Patients with End-Stage Heart Disease Affecting Both Ventricles

New York City, NY (July 21, 2011) - A surgical team from the Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart and Vascular Care recently received certification training for implanting the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, a replacement heart implanted in patients at risk of imminent death from heart failure.  The team, led by Robert E. Michler, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief and Chairman of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, traveled to Houston, Texas, for training in the implantation of the device, which can serve as a bridge to a heart transplant for patients with end-stage heart disease affecting both ventricles. 

"Developing this life-extending capability is a step forward for patients whose only option has been a heart transplant, which unfortunately, is not always immediately available," says Dr. Michler.  "Patients with this Total Artificial Heart now have an alternative that extends their lives, and improves their quality of life, while waiting for a compatible donor heart."

"It's critical for us to be able to have this life-saving technology available to save our sickest patients," says Daniel Goldstein, MD, lead implant surgeon and surgical director of the Mechanical Support Program at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart & Vascular Care. "Allowing a patient to resume their normal daily activities is an important benefit of this advanced device."

Similar to a heart transplant, SynCardia's Total Artificial Heart replaces both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves, eliminating the symptoms and source of end-stage biventricular failure. The device provides immediate, normal blood flow through both ventricles. In fact, the high volume of good blood flow helps speed the recovery of vital organs, helping make the patient a better transplant candidate. 

Unlike a donor heart, the Syncardia Heart is immediately available for transplant-eligible patients at Syncardia-certified centers and does not require anti-rejection medication.  Patients who receive the artificial heart are able to leave the hospital and assume an active life while waiting for a donor heart. Previous artificial hearts had required patients to be connected to large console-sized machines at the hospital,  limiting their mobility and quality of life, and keeping them in the hospital while  awaiting a transplant. The  new portable battery-powered driver is carried in a case the size of a lap-top computer. 

Montefiore's heart surgery program  has been awarded the highest ranking of three stars for the quality of its cardiac surgery by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for the second year in a row. Programs receiving the three-star rating from the organization are considered to be among the top tier of heart surgery centers in the United States. Montefiore is currently evaluating heart failure patients that would be appropriate for the total artificial device.

About The Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart & Vascular Care

The Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart & Vascular Care offers treatment for every type of heart problem, with a range of services that includes cardiac imaging, interventional cardiology, arrhythmia services, and the most advanced medical and surgical care for severe heart disease and congestive heart failure. Montefiore Einstein physicians are leaders in the prognosis and treatment of complex cardiac illnesses and the center is among only a handful of open-heart surgery providers in the region to be designated as a heart transplant and mechanical heart center. Clinical research undertaken by the Montefiore Einstein team has contributed to the development of innovative new therapies such as surgical ventricular reconstruction and the latest generation of mechanical assist devices.