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A ventricular assist device (also called VAD and left ventricular assist device, or LVAD) helps circulate your blood when your heart can’t do the job on its own. It is implanted in your body and powered by an external battery pack you wear at all times. The VAD circulates blood on its own, bypassing the heart, which continues to work as best it can.
The most common VAD assists the left ventricle, the large chamber of your heart that pushes freshly oxygenated blood into the arteries and to your body. It uses several tubes to draw some oxygenated blood out of the left ventricle, route it to a mechanical pump, and then circulate it back into an artery.
If you are a candidate for a ventricular assist device in Las Vegas or Henderson, NV, the cardiologists at Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican can help. Find a cardiologist or cardiac surgeon or call 702.616.4900 to learn more.
Some diseases, such as advanced heart failure, make the heart too weak to circulate blood throughout the body. In the past, if a person’s heart became too weak to pump, the only treatment option was a heart transplant. Today, VADs can serve as a bridge between heart failure and receiving a donor heart and long-term therapy that can keep you living for many years. In fact, many patients who qualify for a heart transplant receive a VAD instead.
People who can’t have or don’t qualify for a heart transplant may be good candidates for a VAD implant. Doctors also use specially designed VADs in infants and small children with heart failure.
Prior to VAD surgery, you may spend several weeks undergoing tests to make sure you are physically healthy enough for surgery. You and your immediate family members will participate in educational sessions to learn how to operate the VAD. You also may need counseling to prepare for the emotional impact of living with a VAD.
VADs are implanted during open heart surgery. You will receive general anesthesia and wake up in a recovery area or specialized cardiac intensive care unit. Expect a hospital stay of about a week.
The VAD is a life-saving treatment that still has inherent risks. The surgical team will discuss the risks with you and ways to reduce them.
Before your release, your care team will explain medications, activity restrictions, and follow-up appointments. Tell your care team about any unusual symptoms, such as fever, or unexpected issues. Cardiac rehabilitation may be part of your recovery, which can take up to three months for open heart surgery.
Although maintaining a VAD can require a substantial lifestyle change, you likely will feel more energetic as oxygen-rich blood begins flowing back to all your vital tissues.
Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican offers ventricular assist devices in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.