Cardiogenic shock continues to be a lifethreatening condition carrying a high mortality and morbidity, where the prognosis remains poor despite intensive modern treatment modalities. In recent years, mainly technical improvements have led to a more widespread use of short- and long-term mechanical circulatory support, such as venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) and left ventricular assist devices (LVADs). Currently, LVADs are indispensable as 'bridge' to cardiac recovery, heart transplantation (HTX), and/or as destination therapy Importantly, both LVADs and HTX put a vast burden on financial resources, besides significant short- and long-term risks of morbidity and mortality. These considerations underscore the importance of optimal timing and appropriate patient selection for LVAD therapy, avoiding as much as possible an unfortunate and costly clinical path. In this report, we present a series of three cases with acute refractory cardiogenic shock ('crash and burn', INTERMACS profile 1) successfully treated by ECMOand early optimal medical therapy preventing a certain path towards LVAD and/or HTX, for which they were initially referred. This conservative approach in INTERMACS profile one patients warrants very early introduction of adequate medical heart failure therapy under the umbrella of a combination of short-term mechanical circulatory and inotropic support by phosphodiesterase inhibitors. Therefore, this novel combined medical-mechanical approach could have important clinical implications for this extremely challenging patient category, as it may avoid an unnecessary and costly clinical path towards LVAD and/or heart transplantation
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