Unfortunately, heart failure is a chronic disease that worsens over time. It is generally treated with lifestyle changes and medications in the early stages. However, once heart failure becomes more advanced and medical therapies 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. In fact, thousands of people around the world with LVADs continue living active, productive lives. 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: as a Bridge to Transplant (BTT) or Destination Therapy (DT). Patients who are heart transplant candidates but are at risk for imminent death may receive the LVAD as a BTT while allowing more time to wait for a donor heart. In Destination Therapy (DT), the LVAD can be used to provide 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 and we currently offer the HeartMate III. In addition, Baptist Health participated in the clinical trial for development of the HeartMate III and is one of the top four implant centers in the country for that clinical trial. The FDA approved the HeartMate III for destination therapy in late 2018.