Patients who have reached end-stage heart failure may require a left ventricular assist device, also known as an LVAD. These special pumps can help patients survive while awaiting heart transplants.
“LVADs can help patients in several different ways,” says James Thomas Heywood, MD, Scripps LVAD program director. “Some patients will need an LVAD temporarily, until they get a heart transplant, while for others, LVAD is a permanent solution.”
Bridge to transplant
For patients who need a heart transplant and have not had success with medical therapy, an LVAD can help them survive until a donor heart becomes available for transplant.
“In such cases, the LVAD allows patients to be discharged to an outpatient setting while they are waiting for a heart transplant,” explains Scripps LVAD surgeon Sam Baradarian, MD.
If a patient is not eligible for a heart transplant, an LVAD may be implanted as a permanent solution.
“For patients who have advanced heart failure, LVADs not only help them live longer, but also improve their quality of life,” says heart failure specialist Ajay Srivastava, MD. “They feel much better, have much more energy and can live more active lives than before the LVAD surgery.”
Occasionally, patients who receive an LVAD as “destination therapy” may have their situations change and become heart transplant candidates after being given time to “rest” with the help of an LVAD.