What is a VAD/LVAD?
An LVAD is a small pump that is surgically implanted inside the chest to help a weakened heart provide mechanical circulation of blood to the body. Unlike a heart transplant, an LVAD does not replace the heart, but instead helps a weakened heart do its job. The LVAD pulls blood from the lower chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and pushes it to the aorta, which carries the blood from the heart to the rest of the body. The LVAD is connected by a "driveline" to a control unit is outside the body. The control unit has a separate power unit and can be worn on a belt around your waist. The LVAD improves blood circulation, may relieve symptoms and allows patients to resume normal activity.
We are proud to offer a shared care model for LVAD needs. With this model of treatment, the CHI Health LVAD team works with the patient’s primary cardiologist in their community to provide the expertise necessary to help patients to return to their normal routine after surgery and makes ongoing follow-up care more convenient.
Types of LVAD Candidates
A VAD is considered in patients with end-stage heart failure - whether it is acute or chronic - when medical therapy is no longer working. There are three types of heart failure patients that are candidates for VAD/LVAD:
- Bridge-to-Transplant candidates are patients who are eligible for a heart transplant but have become too sick to wait until a suitable donor heart is available. The LVAD is temporary for them and provides enough blood flow to the body while they are waiting for a transplant. It may also allow patients to exercise so they are as physically fit as possible when it is time for their transplant.
- Bridge-to-Recovery is when LVADs are used to “rest” the native heart over a period of weeks to months, and is then removed. This holds the promise of permitting other treatments to restore the native heart to full function, avoiding the need for transplant.
- Destination Therapy candidates are patients who will have an LVAD as their permanent treatment for their heart failure. They have problems which make them unable to have a heart transplant or they do not want to receive a heart transplant. CHI Health offers a destination therapy program for LVADs.
Goals of LVAD Placement
- Relief from Heart Failure: Patients with an LVAD can expect an improvement in heart failure symptoms.
- Improved Quality of Life: Patients can expect to return to a more active lifestyle even though there are some restrictions (no swimming, contact sports or jumping). A doctor will explain exactly what activities can be performed with an LVAD.
- A Longer Life: Studies have shown that heart failure patients with LVADs have an improved survival rate compared to patients who only receive medical therapy for their heart failure. If your doctor recommends a VAD for you, it should be viewed as your BEST option for improving quality of life and living longer.
As with any surgery, there are possible risks that go along with having a VAD. Possible risks include bleeding, infection, blood clots, stroke, kidney failure, or failure of the device. Your doctor will explain these risks and others that might apply.
Why Choose CHI Health Heart Institute for VAD Implantation?
Our expert multidisciplinary team provides a comprehensive health evaluation to determine whether a VAD is the right option for you. Our team of heart failure physicians, cardiac surgeons, advanced practice nurses, LVAD coordinators and other professionals is proud of our distinctions, which recognize CHI Health as an expert in the management of complex heart failure patients needing LVAD implantation.