Ethics, Public Policy and Medical Economics
Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are approved as “destination therapy” (permanent use without plans for transplantation) in individuals with advanced heart failure who are not candidates for a cardiac transplant; as such, these devices are increasingly being used in older adults. Although LVADs have been shown to increase quality of life and survival, the associated treatment burdens and complications deserve careful consideration. The current study illustrates myriad clinical challenges that can arise during long-term mechanical support using an older adult case history. Current data on LVAD use in older adults is reviewed, and a discussion of relevant points to consider before LVAD implantation in older adults, including advance care planning, assessment of gait and cognition, and the potential for substantial caregiver burden, is undertaken.