Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Implantation | Maimonides Heart & Vascular Center
A left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, is a mechanical pump that helps people with weak hearts or those experiencing heart failure. After it is implanted into your chest, the LVAD helps pump blood from the lower left chamber of the heart to the rest of your body. Maimonides has the first and only accredited LVAD Program in Brooklyn.
An LVAD can be implanted as a long-term treatment for heart failure, especially if you’re too frail to be a good candidate for a heart transplant. It may also be implanted temporarily while you wait for a heart transplant or to support your heart until it becomes strong enough on its own. While heart transplants are one of the few surgical procedures that Maimonides does not do, our cardiothoracic surgeons have significant expertise in LVAD implantation for long-term or temporary treatment.
Implanting an LVAD requires open-heart surgery, a serious but, potentially life-saving procedure if you have severe heart failure.
When an LVAD is an appropriate treatment
If you’re not a good candidate for a heart transplant. Increasingly, LVADs are being used for long-term treatment of patients who have heart failure but for one reason or another, aren’t good candidates for a heart transplant. As you can see in our short video, heart patients with an LVAD can do many routine activities and it can improve your quality of life.
When your heart can function normally again. If your heart failure is temporary, your physician may recommend implanting an LVAD to help your heart while it heals and becomes healthy enough to pump blood on its own.
If you’re waiting for a heart transplant. Temporary LVAD implantation may make sense when your wait for a donor heart to become available. An LVAD can keep your blood flowing even with a diseased heart and can be removed when a new heart becomes available and is implanted.
LVAD implantation has some rare but serious risks that you should know about and discuss with your physician before deciding on this procedure.
Blood clots may form as your blood moves through an LVAD which can slow or block normal flow through your heart. This can lead to stroke or a heart attack, or even cause your LVAD to stop working effectively.
Open-heart surgery is required to implant an LVAD, and this can increase your risk of bleeding after an operation. Blood-thinning medications taken to reduce the risk of clotting also increase your risks from dangerous bleeding.
Infection can occur because the control unit and power source for an LVAD are outside your body and connected through a port in your skin. This means there’s an increased risk of bacterial infection getting through the port and causing a serious infection. This can be monitored by watching for soreness, redness near the port, fluid draining from the port, or a fever.
Since LVADs pump more blood from the left ventricle of the heart than before implantation, your right ventricle may be too weak to pump the increased blood flow; this can develop into right heart failure. There are treatments for this problem. Medications may improve the right ventricle’s pumping ability and there are right ventricle assist devices (RVAD) that can also be implanted.