Cardiac failure: Mechanical support strategies

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39 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Mechanical support of the circulation is necessary when heart failure becomes refractory to medical support and is typically applied when organ dysfunction occurs as a result of hypoperfusion. However, in timing the intervention, it is important to apply mechanical support before multiple organ failure occurs. The objective of this work is to review the current strategies for mechanical circulatory support in patients with refractory cardiac failure. DESIGN: A review of the use of mechanical circulatory support is presented for patients with refractory cardiac failure. PATIENTS: Data are taken from human studies that were selected to best exemplify the results that may be obtained from various forms of mechanical circulatory support. INTERVENTIONS: Commonly applied forms of mechanical support include mechanical ventilatory support, intraaortic balloon counterpulsation, and hemodialysis or ultrafiltration. If these measures fail, mechanical support of the circulation with ventricular assist devices is possible in specialized centers with expertise in the implantation and management of these devices. The decision to pursue mechanical circulatory support in the critically ill patient is based on the cause of acute decompensation, the potential reversibility of the condition, and the possibility for other treatments to improve the underlying condition or, in highly selected cases, heart transplantation. Newer forms of ventricular assistance that require less surgery are becoming available and may allow use in a broader range of critically ill patients. MAIN RESULTS: There is a range of means to mechanically support the circulation in patients with advanced heart failure. CONCLUSIONS: A variety of means to support the circulation have found application in the treatment of patients with refractory heart failure. More work is required to best identify populations who will benefit from the therapy and to refine the therapy to reduce associated risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S268-S277
JournalCritical care medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 9
StatePublished - Sep 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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