FDA approves new device for chronic heart failure
About 5.7 million people in the United States have heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. The leading causes of heart failure are diseases that damage the heart, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Treatment for heart failure includes treating the underlying causes and reducing symptoms such as fatigue and swelling in the lower extremities that make physical activity difficult. Doctors may prescribe medications like angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers or beta blockers to lower blood pressure and reduce strain on the heart as well as diuretics to reduce fluid buildup in the lungs and swelling in the feet and ankles.
The Optimizer Smart system is comprised of several components, including an implantable pulse generator, battery charger, programmer and software. The pulse generator is implanted under the skin in the upper left or right area of the chest and connected to three leads that are implanted in the heart. After the device is implanted, a physician tests and programs the device, which delivers electrical impulses to the heart during regular heartbeats to help improve the heart’s squeezing capability.
“Patients with moderate-to-severe chronic heart failure have limited treatment options. And for those who are unable to be treated due to underlying conditions or who have not responded to available treatments, their quality of life may be impacted, with limits on the types of physical activities they can do,” said Bram Zuckerman, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiovascular Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The FDA recognized the unmet need for these patients and worked with the manufacturer through our Breakthrough Device Program to efficiently bring this product to market, while ensuring it meets our regulatory requirements for safety and effectiveness.”
The FDA evaluated data from two randomized, multi-center clinical trials with a total of 389 patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure. All patients received optimal medical therapy and 191 patients also received an Optimizer Smart system implant. Patients receiving the implant showed improvements in the distance they were able to walk in six-minute walking tests and improvements on standard assessments to measure heart failure symptoms, such as how much the symptoms affect a patient’s quality of life and how much the symptoms impede daily physical activities compared to those who received only medical therapy.
The Optimizer Smart system is indicated to improve six-minute hall walk distance, quality of life and functional status of certain heart failure patients. These are patients who have a marked limitation of physical activity and who remain symptomatic despite receiving optimal medical therapy. Patients should also have a regular heart rhythm, not be candidates for cardiac resynchronization therapy and have a left ventricular ejection fraction (the total amount of blood pumped out in each heart beat) of 25 to 45 percent, which is considered below the normal ejection fraction of 55 to 75 percent.
Potential complications associated with the use of the device include infection, bleeding, worsened heart failure or problems with the device itself such as a dislodgement or fracture of the leads implanted in the heart.
The FDA granted the Optimizer Smart System a Breakthrough Device designation, meaning the agency provided intensive interaction and guidance to the company on efficient device development, to expedite evidence generation and the agency’s review of the device. To qualify for such designation, a device must provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of a life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating disease or condition. All designated devices must meet one of the following criteria: the device must represent a breakthrough technology; there must be no approved or cleared alternatives; the device must offer significant advantages over existing approved or cleared alternatives; or the availability of the device is in the best interest of patients.