February 4, 2023
Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs)

Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) – An Overview!

LVADs (left ventricular assist devices), also called mechanical hearts, are small pumps that can be implanted in the chest. The pump takes over some of the functions of the heart and helps it beat more effectively.

This may be done when a patient has severe heart failure or a heart attack and needs a temporary ventricular assist device while waiting for a heart transplant.

Traditional LVADs work like artificial hearts and are placed inside your abdomen with tubes going through your skin. An external version can be attached to you by wearing an external battery pack under your clothing that controls its operation.

What Is Left Ventricular Assist Device – LVAD?

LVADs are used to treat heart failure. Heart failure is when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. The LVAD is a mechanical pump that takes over the function of the failing left ventricle (the main pumping chamber) when it cannot do so independently.

The LVAD can be used as a bridge to transplantation, or it can be permanent if you don’t seek further treatment after recovery from surgery to implant it.

Left Ventricular Assist Device - Image By: The Patient

Left Ventricular Assist Device – Image By: The Patient

Why is LVAD Used?

LVADs are used to help people with a failing heart keep their blood flowing, but they are not permanent. People who have an LVAD have to have it removed at some point when they get better or if they get a new heart from transplantation.

LVADs can be used as bridge therapy for people with severe heart failure who are waiting for a transplant or as destination therapy for adults whose hearts have become too weak to support life without one of these devices.

LVADs are used to:

  • Help the heart pump blood. When the right side of your heart has a problem, it can’t pump blood out of your body correctly. This means that blood stays in your lungs and other organs, making them not work well.
  • Improve the quality of life for people with heart failure. LVADs help keeps you from limiting what you do because of your condition or feeling tired. They also increase life expectancy by helping patients live longer without getting a transplant or dying from their disease (called “mortality”).
  • Extend the time before a heart transplant is needed. Transplants have high survival rates but can be very hard on patients’ immune systems—and there aren’t enough organs available for everyone who needs one! LVADs are an alternative to transplants that can keep people alive long enough for another option, such as a donor’s heart, to become available (or for them to make sense financially). This means less waiting and more opportunities for everyone!

Left Ventricular Assist Devices Details

LVADs are implanted in the chest to help support the heart and allow it to pump blood adequately throughout the body. LVADs can be used as a bridge to transplantation or as a permanent solution for patients who have received other treatments for their heart failure but still require some artificial device.

Types Of Left Ventricular Assist Devices

There are two types of LVADs:

  • HeartMate II: The HeartMate II is used as a bridge until someone can receive another type of heart surgery called corrective ventricular remodeling, which will help their heart function normally again without assistance from an external device like an LVAD or ventricular assist pump (VAD).
  • HeartWare Ventricular Assist System: The HeartWare Ventricular Assist System is used as an alternative treatment after someone has received a heart transplant.

How is an LVAD implanted?

The LVAD is implanted in your body. It sits just under the skin of your chest. The LVAD is connected to your heart and is powered by batteries.

These batteries are usually worn on a belt around your waist, although they can be placed inside a pocket or fanny pack if that’s more comfortable for you. A controller monitors how well the device works and alerts medical staff if any problems arise.

What Happens After Surgery?

After surgery, patients will spend time in the intensive care unit (ICU) to be monitored for any complications. Patients on an LVAD will then be moved to a regular hospital room and allowed to recover from surgery.

While it’s not uncommon for patients to feel better after being placed on an LVAD, some people may experience symptoms similar to those they experienced before receiving their device. These symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms after receiving your device, talk with your doctor immediately so that they may make adjustments as needed.

Conclusion

An LVAD is a small device that uses a pump to help the heart make blood flow in the body. The device can be implanted in people with severe heart failure who need a less invasive treatment option than open-heart surgery.

Most people with an LVAD are expected to live long enough for another treatment option, such as transplantation or heart valve repair, to become available. People with LVAD may also have conditions besides heart failure that need treatment before receiving an LVAD.

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