Artificial Hearts and LVADs
As healthy hearts appropriate for transplantation are rare, the medical community has turned to advanced technology to find different ways to treat patients with heart failure. Bridges to transplants are necessary, as it is vital to keep patients healthy enough to tolerate the high stress of a potential transplant.
Ventricular Assist Devices
Mechanical circulatory assist devices, also known as left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), are devices used to support the failing heart, which cannot be safely and effectively managed with standard medical therapy. These devices may be used for short-term purposes, allowing the heart to “rest” long enough so that it can recuperate and return to normal, independent function.
These devices may also be used for more long-term purposes, such as supporting the heart of patients with severe end-stage heart failure who are waiting for a heart transplant. By the end of 2009, the use of implantable mini-LVADs may become the standard of care for patients with chronic heart failure.
At MedStar Heart Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, one of our heart surgeons, Steven W. Boyce, MD, was the first surgeon in the United States to implant a new battery-sized artificial assist device into a patient. Always on the cutting-edge of advanced heart technology, Washington Heart is currently participating in a clinical trial to examine patients’ health while using these devices.
LVAD Informational Videos
Managing life with an LVAD
Some patients have been able to return to a normal life style, with limited activity restrictions, such as no bathing (although showers are allowed) or swimming. Patients and their families work closely with the LVAD Coordinator prior to discharge, to be trained in daily management and trouble-shooting of the device.
Currently, our heart failure program works with five mechanical circulatory assist devices:
- HeartMate® XVE
- HeartMate® II
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