What is it?
A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a small mechanical pump that is surgically implanted to assist with circulation of blood. It helps the weak part of the heart by pulling blood from the lower chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and pushing it to the aorta, which carries the blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Built-in sensors allow the LVAD to detect when the ventricle is full and ready to push blood through the aorta. This ultimately improves blood circulation and may relieve symptoms and allow patients to resume normal activities.
The pump part of the LVAD is implanted just below the heart during open surgery. The rest of the LVAD – including a computer controller, power pack and a reserve power pack – remain outside the body.
For years, heart transplantation was considered the only option for treating patients with advanced heart failure. With the development of the LVAD, there are now alternative treatment options. At Loyola, our team of experts can assess whether the LVAD may be the appropriate option for patients needing:
- Bridge-to-transplant: temporary implantation of the LVAD to extend the life of patients who are waiting for heart transplantation
- Destination therapy: permanent implantation of the LVAD to improve heart function for patients who are diagnosed with end-stage congestive heart failure and ineligible for heart transplantation
In addition, Loyola’s expert team of surgeons and interventional cardiologists is able to implant short-term support devices either surgically or percutaneously in patients with heart attacks in preparation for LVAD implantation or another definitive treatment. Among the short-term support percutaneous ventricular assist devices (PVAD) are Impella and TandemHeart. These PVADs are not implanted into the body. They are connected to the circulatory system by inserting tubes into the arteries near the groin area, restoring heart function and relieving symptoms.
The Loyola difference
Loyola has earned The Joint Commission certification for use of LVAD as a destination therapy device and is one of the few hospitals in the Chicago area and 90 hospitals in the U.S. with this distinction. Our team of heart failure physicians, cardiac surgeons, advanced practice nurses, LVAD coordinators and other professionals is proud of this distinction, which recognizes Loyola as an expert in the management of complex heart failure patients needing LVAD implantation. In addition, Loyola's team of interventional cardiologists are among few with expertise in performing PVAD procedures.
Loyola is a nationally recognized leader in cardiac care. U.S. News & World Report ranked Loyola 29th in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery in 2014-2015. Loyola has the only cardiology program in Chicago to be nationally ranked for 12 years in a row.
Learn more about our performance outcomes.