VAD – Ventricular Assist Device | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

A VAD, or ventricular assist device, is a mechanical heart pump that can be implanted alongside a weakened heart to help it pump blood throughout the body. The device does not replace the heart, but helps it pump blood more effectively.

VADs most commonly are placed to assist the left side of the heart, which is responsible for sending oxygen-rich blood out to the body. In this use, a left-ventricle assist device (LVAD) takes the workload off the left ventricle after heart failure has significantly decreased its pumping power.

The Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Mechanical Circulatory Support Program offers the latest in VAD technology to support a patient’s heart function when medication is no longer effectively controlling heart failure symptoms. A VAD also can be implanted to sustain a patient while awaiting a heart transplant.

What Is an LVAD and How Is It Different From a VAD?

Most heart failure happens on the left side of the heart and, specifically, in the left ventricle. An LVAD is a type of VAD that supports the left ventricle. Less frequently, a VAD can be placed on the right side of the heart to support the right ventricle or configured to support both ventricles.

The left ventricle is the part of the heart muscle that squeezes oxygen-rich blood out to the body. When the heart fails to pump blood as it should, it is often because the left ventricle muscle has thickened and enlarged after years of high blood pressure.

The thicker muscle is less efficient at pumping blood. As heart failure progresses, patients become less able to tolerate exertion and are short of breath even while lying down. As the heart is less able to keep blood moving, fluids can back up in the body, causing congestion in the lungs and other organs (congestive heart failure).

Depending on your condition and your treatment goals, you may qualify for an LVAD. With the mechanical heart pump in place, many patients are able to resume activities and won’t need a heart transplant. In some patients, a VAD is used as a bridge to a heart transplant.

  1. Pump: Implanted into the left ventricle
  2. Driveline: Wiring that connects the pump and controller
  3. Controller: Tells pump how to run
  4. Batteries: Provide power to VAD

How a VAD Is Implanted

The VAD itself is implanted and connected to your heart and blood vessels. A wire leads from inside your chest to a controller and battery packs on a belt.

During surgery to implant your VAD, our surgeons will connect your arteries and veins to a heart-lung bypass machine. The pump itself will be in your upper abdomen with tubes connecting it to your heart and an artery.

Do I Need a VAD?

If your heart failure symptoms cannot be controlled by medications alone, it is time to consider alternative therapy. Some individuals may need short-term support prior to a heart transplant, while others need long-term support.

A VAD can be used as a bridge to transplant, which means it can help a person survive until a donor heart becomes available for transplant. The VAD may allow you to go home while waiting for a heart transplant.

A VAD also can be used as destination therapy, a more permanent solution, which is an alternative to a heart transplant. It can be used if you are not a candidate for a transplant.

Whichever use is determined to be best for you, the goal of having a VAD placed is to provide effective support for your heart and maintain or improve your heart function.

Heart and Vascular Care for the Whole Person

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers patient resources to support you and your family, including free classes for people of all ages who are seeking to improve cardiovascular health or living with a heart condition.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Our cardiac rehabilitation providers are leaders in developing and applying innovative techniques that can help you recover and resume your life.

Connecting Hearts Support Group

The group provides education and support to individuals who have had a heart attack, are living with a heart condition or are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Heart Health Screenings

Prevention is the best way to manage heart disease, and screenings are available to detect early signs of cardiac and vascular disease and identify risk factors.

About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

About 250,000 people a year in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Heart & Vascular Institute to treat their heart and vascular conditions. That’s more than any other provider in the area.

  • All four of Norton Healthcare’s adult acute-care hospitals are accredited by the American College of Cardiology’s Accreditation Services as Chest Pain Centers, with the highest accreditation level possible for facilities able to treat heart attacks.
  • We have more than 50 board-certified cardiovascular physicians and 35 advanced practice providers. Through training and years of experience, they specialize in areas such as cardiologyinterventional cardiologycardiothoracic surgerythoracic surgery, electrophysiologyadvanced heart failureand vascular surgery.
  • We offer same-day appointments for new patients.
  • We have 27 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Telecardiology is offered at more than 30 clinical sites in the region.
  • Norton Healthcare has four adult-service cardiac catheterization labs, with 14 state-of-the-art rooms. Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital have received the highest level of cardiac catheterization accreditation from the American College of Cardiology — offering lifesaving, minimally invasive procedures for diagnosis and treatment.
  • Our cardiothoracic surgeons and electrophysiologists have more experience than any provider in the area performing hybrid ablation for atrial fibrillation (A-fib). This innovative treatment also can help patients who have had persistent A-fib for more than a year that hasn’t responded to other treatments.
  • Norton Healthcare is the only health care system in Kentucky to receive the prestigious Mission: Lifeline Regional Trailblazer Award from the American Heart Association for being an innovator in creating a system of care for ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attacks — the most severe type of heart attack.

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