A Left Ventricular Assist Device procedure or LVAD is a procedure where a pump is inserted into the heart to help the heart pump properly. It is like a mechanical heart that functions like a real one. It doesn’t replace the heart but assists it instead. Most are temporary, but they can be used long-term for terminally ill patients who are not able to receive a heart transplant.
Why A Person May Need An LVAD Procedure
This procedure is for patients who have heart conditions or heart failure and whose hearts are not working properly. In most cases, the procedure is considered a lifesaving one and can help a patient live longer. Most patients will receive an LVAD temporarily until they can receive a heart transplant. They can also be used on patients who are in end-stage heart failure as a way to prolong their survival rate.
Preparing For An LVAD Procedure
The LVAD procedure is a serious one, and it may require some specific preparation. If patients have other health problems, doctors may make specific arrangements for them. Most patients will be asked not to eat anything 12 hours before the surgery. Some may also be asked to stop taking certain medications. If a patient is sick or has an infection, the doctor will reschedule the procedure until they are in good health.
During The LVAD Procedure
During the procedure, the patient will receive anesthesia and will not be awake. The patient’s chest is opened up, and the pump is inserted into the chest and connected to the heart so it can help pump the blood. A tube runs from the aorta to the left ventricle. The pump moves the blood through the tube and the rest of the body. The pump is connected to a power pack that remains outside the body.
LVAD Procedure Recovery
Because this is a major surgery, recovery can take some time. Many patients spend at least a week in hospital where they are monitored by doctors and nurses for any signs of infections and to make sure the pump is working properly. Once the patient goes home, they will need to rest and eat a healthy diet. It’s also a good idea for the patient to have a friend or family member who can help care for them during recovery. It can take several weeks for the incision to heal and several months before the patient feels healthy enough to resume regular activities.
While complications are not common, they can happen. Doctors monitor their patients carefully to keep an eye out for signs of complications so they can be dealt with quickly. Some common complications include:
In most cases, patients who undergo an LVAD procedure feel better and have more energy. The procedure can help patients live longer and have a better quality of life. When a patient is ready to undergo a heart transplant, the pump is removed. Patients who cannot receive a transplant can wear the pump long-term.