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Mechanical Circulatory Support Devices
Ventricular assist devices (also known as heart pumps) support blood flow and heart function in people with weakened hearts. The VAD helps move blood from the heart to vital organs throughout the body. Tubes carry blood from the heart to a mechanical pump and then from the pump to the blood vessels. There are two basic VAD designs.
- Transcutaneous: Pump and power source are outside the body. Small holes in the abdomen allow the tubes to run from the pump to the heart. This type of VAD is for short-term support.
- Implantable: The pump is inside the body and the power source is outside of the body. A cable runs through a small hole in the abdomen, connecting the pump to a portable power source, which can be worn on a belt.
A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a treatment option for certain patients with end-stage heart failure. Similar to a VAD, a LVAD is implanted in heart failure patients to help the heart’s left ventricle (major pumping chamber of the heart) pump blood throughout the body. The LVAD can be used two ways:
• Bridge-to-transplant: Helps transplant-eligible patients survive until a donor heart becomes available
• Destination therapy: Provides long-term support in patients who are not candidates for transplant
Who is eligible to receive a LVAD?
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.