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LEFT VENTRICULAR ASSIST DEVICE (LVAD)

A Simple Explanation

It is like a mechanical heart pump that helps the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to the whole body.

What is LVAD?

The human heart has 4 chambers. The two upper chambers are called the Atrium, which are the receiving chambers while the lower two are the discharging chambers called the Ventricles.

The Left ventricle is responsible for supplying blood to the whole body. LVAD is a mechanical pump, surgically implanted and attached to the left ventricle of the heart.

It is different from an artificial heart because LVAD works with the heart assisting it to pump more blood with less effort. The artificial heart, meanwhile, replaces the failing heart completely.

Who needs LVAD?

Patients who have reached an advanced stage of heart failure where the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the whole body’s requirements.

How is it used?

LVAD is mainly used as a therapy for patients with a weak heart, restoring the bloodflow and relieving the symptoms of shortness of breath and being constantly tired. There are three types of therapy that will help these patients.

  • Bridge-to-Transplant therapy: this is used for patients waiting for a heart transplant. The LVAD is used till a heart donor is found. There are cases where the LVAD has been able to restore the failing heart thus disregarding the need for a heart transplant.
  • Destination Therapy: This is a permanent solution for patients who are not fit for heart transplants. Here, the patients receive long-term treatment using the LVAD, prolonging and improving the patients’ lives.
  • Bridge-to-Recovery therapy:This is implanted for patients with temporary heart failure. In some cases, the heart goes back to normal after a brief period of ‘rest’ assisted with the LVAD.

How does it work?

The LVAD has both internal and external components. The pump and its connections are implanted during a open-heart surgery and the computer controller, power pack and reserve power pack are outside which are worn on a belt or harness outside.

One end of the LVAD, the actual pump, is attached to the left Ventricle, the chamber responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. The other end is hooked to the aorta, the main artery. It takes the blood from the left ventricle and moves it to the aorta continuously, thus enabling the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the whole body.

A cable called the Driverline extends from the pump out through the skin and connects the pump to the controller and the power packs.

The power packs have to be recharged at night.

Risks of LVAD

The LVAD implantation has the risks associated with any surgery. Some of the risks are:

  • Bleeding in the gut and brain
  • Clot
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Right heart dysfunction
  • Hemolysis : damage to the blood cells due to the pump.

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Billroth Hospitals,
43, Lakshmi Talkies Road, Shenoy Nagar,
Chennai-30.

+91-44-42921777

+91-7299404040

admin@billrothhospitals.com

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