Heart failure (HF) is among the leading causes of death globally and, with the rarity of readily available heart donors, HF will continue to claim lives.
Amid this, Berlin Heart is changing the medical landscape with innovative paracorporeal and implantable ventricular assist devices (VADs), providing a lifeline to patients awaiting heart transplants.
Berlin Heart has made a huge impact on cardiac surgery with its EXCOR and INCOR devices. The paracorporeal VAD EXCOR has variations for adult and paediatric patients. Berlin Heart is the only company that has developed VADs for babies and kids. With EXCOR, flexible cannulae are implanted in the body and connected to pumps outside. It vibrates rhythmically and assists patients whose hearts cannot pump enough blood.
The company made history in Japan last year when University of Tokyo physicians saved the life of a 21-month-old infant with a dilated cardiomyopathy using the EXCOR Pediatric VAD. Without it, the girl would likely not have survived the long wait for the successful transplantation a few months later.
The INCOR blood pump is implanted directly next to the heart. Connected to the pump via cables, the batteries and control unit are stored in a bag which can be worn as a shoulder bag. INCOR's portability improves patients' quality of life, enabling freedom of movement.
Though originally seen as bridges to transplantation, VADs are increasingly used for destination therapy as they have become more hi-tech - a course of treatment when there is no option to provide a heart transplant.
Berlin Heart works with hospitals in Asia including the Veterans Hospital in Taiwan, Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong and hospitals in Japan and South Korea. The company has a clinical support team travelling the world to provide assistance to hospitals using its devices.
"We're seeking more partners in Asia to help spread awareness of the therapy and enhance benefits for patients using our VADs," says Dr Dirk Lauscher, general manager.