The LVAD provides a lifesaving option for heart failure patients who do not have many alternatives to treatment.
The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute was the first in West Virginia to successfully implant the life-saving heart pump known as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). Now, patients in West Virginia and nearby states no longer need to leave the state to obtain this heart failure therapy.
About 6.5 million American adults are living with heart failure, and that number is expected to increase 46 percent by 2030, according to the American Heart Association. In West Virginia, heart failure is the most common heart-related reason for hospital admission and readmission. Depending on its severity, most cases of heart failure can be managed with medications, pacemakers, or surgery. When those treatments are not options, heart transplantation or a heart pump, such as the LVAD, is necessary.
About the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)
A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a pump used for patients who have reached end-stage heart failure. An LVAD does not replace the heart. The device is implanted under the skin. It assists the patient’s own heart to pump blood from the left ventricle of the heart and on to the rest of the body, decreasing the work of the left ventricle.
The LVAD can be used two ways:
Bridge-to-transplant, which means it can help a patient survive until a donor heart becomes available for transplant. This option may be appropriate for people whose medical therapy has failed and who are hospitalized with end-stage systolic heart failure. As a bridge-to-transplant, the LVAD allows the patient to be discharged to an outpatient setting while waiting for transplant.
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; and when used as destination therapy or bridge-to-transplant, improve the patient’s strength and ability to participate in activities such as cardiac rehabilitation. This also means patients can return home with the LVAD and continue normal activities. In order to receive an LVAD, patients undergo tests to determine whether they are good candidates for the device.
What are the risks of the LVAD implantation procedure?
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks to the LVAD implantation procedure. Our physicians and staff monitor patients closely to prevent and manage any complications related to the device. Our physicians will discuss the specific risks and potential benefits of this procedure.