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Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)

  • Understanding the procedure

    Mount Elizabeth, Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)

    The left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a device designed to save patients from heart failure. This mechanical pump is implanted inside your chest to help your heart do its job by pumping oxygen-rich blood around your body when needed. For example, in the case of a patient diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, when nothing else can help, an LVAD can give you a new lease of life.

    Implanted in the heart by our experienced specialists, one end of the LVAD is attached to the left ventricle – the heart chamber in charge of pumping blood around the body – and the other end is attached to the aorta, the main artery in the body. This heart-assist device is then connected via a cable made out of special materials to a computer controller and a power pack that remain outside of your body.

    Here at Gleneagles Hospital, we utilise the new generation HeartMate II – one of the most advanced and reliable devices for the treatment of heart failure available today. The HeartMate II is the only heart-assist device approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for both Bridge-To-Heart Transplant and for Long-term “Destination” Therapy. An average healthy adult requires the heart to pump four to five litres of blood every minute while at rest; this life-saving device can pump six to ten litres of oxygen-rich blood per minute, providing enough bloodflow to allow the recipient to perform the normal activities of daily living independently. The main problem with previous heart pumps has been wear and tear, as well as blood clots forming within the pump. Not only is the HeartMate II smaller and quieter than other LVADs, it is also designed to function for many years with minimal wear and tear, and with the proper medication, the incidence of blood clots forming is low.

    Patients suffering from end-stage heart failure who are not responding to medications and pacemakers may be recommended by specialists to implant an LVAD while awaiting a heart donor. This will keep you alive and also maintain the function of the other vital organs such as the kidney and liver during this period of time, so that your body will be ready for a heart transplant should a donor heart become available. For those who are not eligible for heart transplantation or in urgent or emergency situations where there is no time to wait for a donor, your surgeon may recommend the permanent implantation of an LVAD in your chest for the purpose of restoring normal blood circulation. Blood thinners will also be prescribed to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the pump.

    In order to ensure that the LVAD pump is able to function smoothly in the body together with the other vital organs, patients are required to meet certain medical criteria prior to undergoing LVAD implantation, which the cardiologist will ascertain when they evaluate your condition.

  • An LVAD works to restore normal blood flow to patients whose hearts have been weakened by heart disease. This helps to relieve physical symptoms of a weak heart such as constant fatigue or shortness of breath, thereby significantly improving the quality of life. In some cases such as viral infections of the heart muscle, it can also allow the heart to regain normal function by providing it a chance to rest and recover.

    Some patients with other significant illnesses who are not eligible for heart transplantation may also be suitable for and benefit from the use of a permanent LVAD. Known as "destination therapy", this long-term support option is an alternative to receiving a heart transplant, and can make a life-saving difference for patients whose hearts are too weak to pump blood on their own. Landmark studies published have shown that permanent LVAD-assisted therapy can double the survival rate of patients with end-stage heart failure at one year and even at two years, in comparison to treatment without the use of an LVAD.

    Gleneagles Hospital's established team of highly specialised cardiac surgeons and cardiologists, supported by our strong multi-disciplinary team of medical specialists, nurses and therapists, will guide you with professionalism and care through the entire process from surgery to recovery and back to independence. Rest assured that we willdo all we can to create a successful outcome for our patients.

  • We understand that patients value efficient and effective treatment above all else, and that is what we provide at Gleneagles. Our highly accomplished team of specialists and staff at Gleneagles Hospital will make it their priority to place your needs first in formulating a course of treatment. Let us help you move swiftly towards better health and better living today.

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