Baptist Health Heart Failure and Transplant Institute

Left Ventricular Assist Device

Heart failure is a chronic disease that worsens over time and is rarely cured. It is generally treated with lifestyle changes and medications in the early stages. However, once heart failure becomes more advanced and traditional treatments are no longer working, a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) may be an option.

An LVAD is an implantable mechanical pump that helps pump blood from the lower chambers of your heart (the ventricles) to the rest of your body. This improves and, in some cases, even reverses the symptoms of heart failure. Without the assistance of an LVAD, medications and other treatments for advanced heart failure are very limited and become less effective as the disease progresses.

You may have an LVAD surgically implanted for two different reasons: Bridge to Transplant (BTT) or Destination Therapy (DT). Patients who are a good heart transplant candidate but are at risk for imminent death may receive the LVAD as a BTT while allowing more time for your heart and other vital organs to become strong enough to receive a heart transplant.  In Destination Therapy (DT), the LVAD can be used to provide long-term permanent cardiac support for patients who are not eligible to receive a heart transplant. At Baptist Health, we implanted our first DT HeartMate II in February 2010. We are currently the only hospital in the state that offers the HeartMate III and are in the top four centers in the country for the numbers of HeartMate III's that have been implanted.

You may find it reassuring to know that there are thousands of people around the world with LVADs living active, productive lives.