'Being' a ventricular assist device recipient: A liminal existence.
Heart failure is a major problem worldwide; it is the leading cause of hospitalisation and is posing a huge financial burden. Advances in healthcare have contributed to increased life expectancy, with a resultant increase in the number of patients with chronic heart failure. For many patients who are still severely symptomatic despite optimal medical therapy and cardiac resynchronisation therapy, cardiac transplantation would be the preferred treatment option. However, hopes are cut short with a limited donor pool of hearts for the increasing number of patients requiring cardiac transplantation. One uprising method to fill this treatment void for patients with advanced end-stage heart failure (ESHF) is the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). Although traditionally used as a bridge to transplantation, owing to limitation of suitable donors, evidence suggests increasing potential for the use of LVAD as destination therapy (DT), that is, lifelong permanent support. Exploration of DT is a promising avenue to many patients suffering with ESHF who may never be fortunate enough to receive a heart transplant, but not without reservations of its efficacy, safety, effects on quality-adjusted life years and cost-effectiveness, especially in comparison to heart transplantation.