Left ventricular assist device for heart failure

A pumping mechanism to treat heart failure

Heart failure doesn’t mean the heart has stopped. Rather, it means the heart isn’t pumping enough blood through the body. If you’re experiencing advanced heart failure but aren’t healthy enough to receive a transplant, one option that may be available to you is a left ventricular assist device (LVAD).

How LVAD works

A healthy heart pumps blood from the left ventricle (the large chamber that holds blood) into the aorta (the main artery responsible for blood circulation). If you have heart failure, an LVAD can provide the necessary power to perform this vital function.

The LVAD restores blood flow throughout the body, improving organ function and enabling patients to breathe easier. After receiving an LVAD, patients generally feel more energetic and are able to resume many of their normal activities.

What is an LVAD?

An LVAD is a mechanical pump we can surgically attach to your heart. It consists of several parts:

  • Blood pump: surgically implanted in the body and attached to the heart
  • Driveline cable: extends from the pump out through the skin, connecting the pump to the controller
  • Controller: regulates power and monitors the LVAD’s performance
  • Power pack: provides power to the device through batteries or electricity
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You’ll carry the controller and power pack outside your body in a specially designed carrying case that allows easy movement with the LVAD equipment. 

Getting the LVAD at Edward-Elmhurst Health

At the Cardiac Innovations & Structural Heart Center at the Heart Hospital of Edward-Elmhurst Health, we offer the HeartMate II, which is the most widely used and extensively studied LVAD in the world. Four out of five people with advanced heart failure who received the HeartMate II in a clinical study became free or almost free of heart failure symptoms six months after surgery – and remained so for at least two years.

With our extensive experience and expertise in treating heart conditions, you can depend on the heart team at the Cardiac Innovations & Structural Heart Center to give you the best care.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved LVAD for patients with severe heart failure who also aren’t eligible for heart transplants. Edward Hospital is the only community hospital in the Chicago area that provides LVADs to non-transplant patients.

LVAD surgery

Implanting the LVAD involves open-heart surgery that can take three to six hours. The recovery period varies, and patients typically stay in the hospital anywhere from two to four weeks after the surgery.

To implant the LVAD, your surgeon will make an incision in your breastbone (sternum) to access your heart. Your heart will be connected to a heart-lung machine, which temporarily takes over the pumping and breathing functions while we conduct the surgery. Then, your surgeon will place the LVAD pumps and driveline cable. The driveline will come out of your body through an incision in your abdomen. Once all the LVAD components are connected, your surgeon will gradually transfer the heart’s function from the blood-lung machine to the LVAD.

Am I a good candidate?

If you can’t have a heart transplant for one or more of these reasons, an LVAD might be a good choice for you:

  • Obesity
  • Other cardiac conditions, such as pulmonary hypertension
  • Other diseases and health issues, such as diabetes, renal failure, or a recent cancer diagnosis

Ready to learn more about the LVAD device?

Ask your doctor for a referral to our Cardiac Innovations & Structural Heart Center at the Heart Hospital of Edward-Elmhurst Health. We’ll work with you to determine if the LVAD is a good treatment option for your advanced heart failure.

Fill out our online form to request more information, or call (630) 527-3730 for more information.