Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)

What is a Left Ventricular Assist Device? (LVAD)

A left ventricular assist device (also called VAD) is a type of heart pump or mechanical circulatory support device. It is implanted in patients who have heart failure to help the heart’s weakened left ventricle (major pumping chamber of the heart) pump blood throughout the body.

The LVAD can be used two ways:

  1. Bridge-to-transplant, which helps patients survive until a donor heart becomes available for transplant. This option may be appropriate for people whose have end-stage heart failure. As a bridge-to-transplant, the LVAD allows the patient to be discharged to home while waiting for transplant.
  2. Destination therapy, which is an alternative to heart transplant. Destination therapy provides long-term support in patients who are not candidates for transplant.

The LVAD may provide blood pressure support; maintain or improve other organ function by improving blood flow to the kidneys, liver, brain and other organs; or when used as destination therapy or bridge-to-transplant, improve the patient’s strength and ability to participate in activities such as cardiac rehabilitation.

Who is Eligible to Receive a LVAD?

A LVAD is a treatment option for certain patients with end-stage heart failure. Your doctor will determine if a LVAD is an appropriate treatment for you, based on your medical condition, symptoms, age, body size and presence of other medical conditions.

A LVAD may not be the appropriate treatment choice for some patients who have blood clotting disorders, irreversible kidney failure, severe liver disease, severe lung disease, or infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Multi-disciplinary Team of Experts

Maine Medical Center is an experienced leader in caring for patients with heart failure. In 1997, MMC became the first hospital in the nation to implant a Left Ventricular Assist Device as destination therapy. We are the only hospital in Maine to perform LVAD surgeries.

Other specialized services we provide are management of Cardiomems, Extra Coporal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), right ventricular assist device, Impella, Heartmate II LVAS, and Heartware devices. 

The team consists of:

  • Heart failure cardiologist
  • Cardiac surgeons
  • LVAD Coordinators 
  • Social workers
  • Palliative Care specialists
  • Pharmacists 
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Mental health specialists
  • Dietitians
  • And other support staff

LVAD Evaluation

A LVAD evaluation will determine if you are a good fit for a device. Please read the MMC Patient's Guide to Evaluation Process for LVAD.

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John's Story

John Karp is an entrepreneur, fascinated with technology. However, one day he found out his heart needed the latest technology -- a Left Ventricular Assist Device. His heart is strumming after his recent implant at MMC.