A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a mechanical pump that is implanted in patients with heart failure. It helps the bottom left chamber of your heart (left ventricle) pump blood out to the rest of your body.
The parts of the LVAD may vary based on the type of device but there are four basic parts:
The pump unit is placed in the chest. It is implanted into the apex of the heart where it receives blood. A tube then delivers this blood from the device to the aorta (the large artery that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body). It works by pumping blood by continuous flow from the left ventricle to the aorta.
The pump is attached to a driveline (cable) and a control system (controller). The driveline passes from the device through the skin on your belly (abdomen) to the controller (a small computer) on the outside of your body. The controller runs the pump and provides messages and alarms to help you operate the system. A power supply (rechargeable batteries or cord that plugs into an electrical socket) keeps the LVAD running.
WHEN IS LVAD RECOMMENDED
Your doctor may recommend LVAD when you have been diagnosed with advanced heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which your heart is unable to pump enough blood to support the basic needs of your body. Although medications and lifestyle changes can improve heart function initially, for most people heart failure gets worse over time. As heart failure becomes more severe, symptoms increase, and other organs may begin to fail (often the liver and kidneys). VADs are used to increase blood flow when your heart failure has become severe and is not responding well to medications and other treatments. Thereby preventing secondary organ damage and preserving life.
Your doctors recommend this procedure
- As a temporary measure if you are awaiting heart transplant
- As a step to managing your heart failure condition in the long term and a step or bridge towards a heart transplant.