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VENTRICULAR ASSIST DEVICE (VAD) FOR ADVANCED HEART FAILURE

WHAT IS A VAD?

A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump. When one of the heart’s natural pumps (a ventricle) does not perform well, a VAD is used to increase the amount of blood that flows through the body. A VAD is implanted to assist patients living with advanced heart failure.

A VAD consists of:

  • A pump that is attached to a ventricle inside the body
  • An external controller, which is a small computer that monitors the pump
  • A driveline cable, which connects the pump to the controller
  • Power sources that run the pump and controller

HOW THE HEARTWARE HVAD PUMP WORKS

The HeartWare™ HVAD™ Pump is surgically implanted in the chest, in a sac around the heart known as the pericardial space. The small size (relative to a golf ball) of the pump allows it to be implanted using a small incision.

The HVAD Pump is connected directly to the heart at the bottom of the left ventricle, where it draws oxygen-rich blood through the pump and pushes it into the aorta. Once blood reaches the aorta, it can flow to the rest of the body.

Despite the compact size of the HVAD Pump, it can pump enough blood every minute to help decrease heart failure symptoms. A doctor will program the HVAD Pump so it delivers the right amount of flow for the body’s needs.

The driveline is connected to the pump. The cable that connects the pump to the controller is fed through a small incision in the abdomen.

LIVING WITH THE HVAD SYSTEM

Living with the HVAD System includes managing the equipment that runs the pump.

The controller is a mini computer that monitors the pump. It provides text messages and audible alarms to help manage the system. The controller runs on two batteries or one battery combined with electricity from a wall or car outlet. Two fully charged batteries can run the controller for up to 8 -12 hours. The HVAD System comes with several batteries, a battery charger, and multiple power adapters.

Together, the controller and batteries weigh less than 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg). Carrying packs come in several styles. Each one is designed for easy, hands-free use.