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Heart Assist System Implantation
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Heart Assist System Implantation?

A heart assist system implantation (also called a ventricular assist device, or VAD) is an artificial heart. This single-chamber artificial heart works by compressed air or battery power. The device boosts the function of a failing ventricle.

Left Ventricular Assist Device
Left Ventricular Assist Device
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

VADs are used for people with end-stage refractory congestive heart failure that has not responded to medicine. In the heart, the left ventricle does most of the work. It is usually the chamber that fails first. VADs can be used to support the left ventricle, right ventricle, or both. Getting a VAD is a way to improve the heart's ability to pump without having a heart transplant .

A VAD is used most often while you are waiting for a heart transplant. This is known as a bridge to transplant. Newer devices are being studied for long-term support of a failing heart. This is known as destination therapy. Depending on your overall health, you may be able to return to normal activities after you recover.

Heart failure occurs when the heart is too weak to pump all the blood it...

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have VAD implantation, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Device failure
  • Adverse reaction to the anesthesia
  • Kidney, lung, or heart damage

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include having:

  • A serious infectious disease
  • Advanced disease of vital organs other than the heart
  • Blood clotting disorder

Also, if you have a small stature, you may not be able to get a VAD. The device is bulky. Newer generation continuous flow devices, which are much smaller, are being studied.

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the surgery.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if...