Justin Grodin, M.D. Answers Questions On: Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)
Aren’t LVADs only for people who are waiting for a heart transplant?
No, these devices can also be used as therapy for people who aren’t transplant candidates. The LVAD sits on the outside of the heart and bypasses the blood flow to the rest of the body and improving quality of life and survival.
LVADs are currently undergoing a lot of advances, which may make them a good option for even more people in the future. The devices are getting smaller, the surgeries are becoming more efficient, and there’s new technology on the horizon that will make LVADs more compatible with our bodies. So we look forward to what we’ll be able to do with future generations of these devices.
If you have an LVAD, will you feel normal again?
You’ll definitely be able to do things that you couldn’t do prior to having an LVAD. It improves exercise capacity, overall quality of life, and longevity. People with LVADs do feel better.
But there’s also a lot of upkeep and constant interaction between LVAD patients and their care team to keep everything working well. So if you receive an LVAD you’ll need to be prepared to have certain aspects of your lifestyle change.
It’s a very abstract concept, to have a mechanical pump sewn into your heart, and it’s hard to really wrap your mind around it until you get it. We spend a lot of time with our patients who are considering an LVAD to make sure they understand everything that’s involved from the surgical implantation, as well as the long term support we’ll give them after their device is implanted.