Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVAD)
Pioneers in LVAD Implantation
A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a surgically implanted pump that supports the left ventricle of your heart if you have advanced heart failure. LVADs ensure that your heart pumps enough blood to meet your body’s needs. An LVAD can provide lifesaving support for people dealing with a variety of life-threatening conditions and help improve overall quality of life.
NewYork-Presbyterian has more than 30 years of experience in LVAD implantation and monitoring. Our internationally known experts have pioneered innovation and technological progress in this field. We specialize in the management of complex cases, often treating patients who were deemed too ill by other institutions to receive an LVAD. We provide you and your family with individualized education, both in-person and online, to ensure you understand and are comfortable with this therapy.
How Does an LVAD Work?
An LVAD is implanted next to your heart to help pump blood into your main artery, the aorta. The aorta then distributes the blood to the rest of your body. In addition to the pump, the other components of the LVAD include a flexible cable (driveline) that connects the pump to a small computer (controller). This controller is attached to a belt and is powered by batteries worn outside your body. Over the past three decades, LVAD therapy has undergone tremendous improvements — progressing from bulky, noisy pumps with limited durability (one to two years) to smaller, silent, and more durable pumps.
Can I Benefit from an LVAD?
Your doctor will let you know if you may benefit from LVAD therapy. The risks and benefits will be carefully discussed and the decision to proceed will be based on your personal history and preferences. LVADs have been shown to be beneficial for:
Advanced Heart Failure
People with advanced heart failure may need an LVAD when medications and other treatments are no longer effective. An LVAD can reduce heart failure symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, leg swelling, diminished exercise capacity, and problems with liver and/or kidney function. It may also reduce recurrent hospital admissions due to heart failure; even a single admission to the hospital because of heart failure symptoms is related to a shorter life expectancy.
Bridge to Heart Transplant
Waiting for a heart transplant may take weeks, month, or even years. LVAD implantation may support heart function to prevent patients from getting sicker while they wait for a heart transplant.
If you are not a candidate for heart transplantation due to your age or other considerations, LVAD implantation may prolong and improve your life. Your doctor can speak with you to discuss if this is an option for you.
Bridge to Recovery
You may benefit from an LVAD if your heart is expected to recover its function but may not do so with medications alone. Some of these situations include heart failure that develops after cardiac surgery, inflammation of the heart that is expected to get better, or sometimes heart failure after having a baby. Our team gives each patient an opportunity to recover their heart function. We have developed a state-of-the-art protocol to give our patients the best chance of recovery. If your heart function recovers, we will do testing to see if the LVAD can be removed safely.