Heart Pumps for Advanced Heart Failure
For patients with advanced heart failure, everyday activities such as going to the store or walking up the stairs can present a challenge. A left ventricular assist device, also known as an LVAD or heart pump, may help the heart function better, increase longevity and improve quality of life for some of these patients.
An LVAD is a mechanical heart pump that helps circulate blood throughout the body. It does not replace the heart, but helps the heart to function better.
Scripps Health is certified by the Joint Commission to implant LVADs as a permanent therapy for advanced heart failure. A sign of quality, the certification reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.
How an LVAD works
An LVAD is a pump, just like the heart. A small motor in the pump moves blood from the left ventricle of the heart directly to the aorta where it is then circulated to the rest of the body. The LVAD is made up of three components:
- The heart pump
- The controller
- Two batteries
The heart pump is implanted through open heart surgery. One end of the left ventricular assisted device is implanted in the wall of the left ventricle. The motor is nested under the rib cage and the other end of pump is grafted to the aorta.
A cord called the driveline extends from the motor, through the skin to the outside of the body. Connected to the driveline are two external batteries and a system controller. During the day, the heart pump uses the two batteries for power. They are recharged at night while the LVAD is plugged into a power module.
Image reprinted with the permission of Thoratec Corporation