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Circ Heart Fail. 2012 Jan;5(1):10-6. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.111.962951. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Cost-effectiveness analysis of continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices as destination therapy.

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Division of Cardiology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA.



Continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have become the dominant devices for mechanical circulatory support, but their cost-effectiveness is undetermined. This study assessed the cost-effectiveness of continuous-flow devices for destination therapy versus optimal medical management in advanced heart failure and compared the results with previous estimates for pulsatile devices.


A Markov model was developed to assess cost-effectiveness. Survival, hospitalization rates, quality of life, and cost data were obtained for advanced heart failure patients treated medically or with a continuous-flow LVAD. Rates of clinical outcomes for all patients were obtained from clinical trial databases. Medicare prospective payments were used to estimate the cost of heart failure admissions. The cost of LVAD implantation was obtained prospectively from hospital claims within a clinical trial. Compared with medically managed patients, continuous-flow LVAD patients had higher 5-year costs ($360 407 versus $62 856), quality-adjusted life years (1.87 versus 0.37), and life years (2.42 versus 0.64). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of the continuous-flow device was $198 184 per quality-adjusted life year and $167 208 per life year. This equates to a 75% reduction in incremental cost-effectiveness ratio compared with the $802 700 per quality-adjusted life year for the pulsatile-flow device. The results were most sensitive to the cost of device implantation, long-term survival, cost per rehospitalization, and utility associated with patients' functional status.


The cost-effectiveness associated with continuous-flow LVADs for destination therapy has improved significantly relative to the pulsatile flow devices. This change is explained by significant improvements in survival and functional status and reduction in implantation costs.

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