A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical device that is used to take over the pumping function for one or both of the heart’s ventricles. A VAD may be necessary when heart failure progresses to the point that medications and other treatments are no longer effective.
For persons with severe or end-stage heart failure, ventricular assist devices (VADs) may be required to support the heart to ensure that enough blood is pumped out by the heart per minute to meet the body’s needs.
Why Choose VAD?
Heart transplantation is an option for some patients with severe heart failure (HF), but during this late stage of HF, over 50 percent of persons on a waiting list for heart transplantation will die before receiving a donor heart. Organ donors are in short supply and do not meet the demand for patients waiting for heart transplant. The wait time for heart transplantation may often exceed 200 days.
Long wait times and decreased availability of donors strengthens the need to seek other methods to support the failing heart. Patients may die waiting for a heart transplant, or their other important organs, such as the liver and kidney, may become permanently damaged before a donor heart is available. VADs have been shown to maintain adequate blood circulation in cases of severe HF.
Some VADs are designed to support the right heart alone (right ventricular assist device or RVAD) or both ventricles (biventricular assist device or BiVAD), but commonly the left ventricle (left ventricular support device or LVAD) is the primary point of support. VADs are most commonly implanted during an open-heart surgical procedure. VADs can be used for just a few hours or days of support or as a longer-term support, months to years.