Destination Therapy

There are up to 100,000 people who are terminally ill with end-stage heart failure and for whom a heart transplant is not possible. Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) can help patients who are not eligible for a heart transplant due to age, other health problems, or other complications. This purpose is called "destination therapy."

NewYork-Presbyterian offers VADs for such long-term destination therapy, improving patient's function and enabling them to live longer, productive lives.

What is a VAD?

VADs consist of three main parts: an electric pump, an electronic control system, and a power supply.

(click to enlarge)
(credit: Thoratec Corporation)

Electric Pump

The electric pump is implanted in the upper part of the abdominal wall and connected to the heart at two points. A tube carries blood from the left ventricle to the pump. The blood is then pumped through a second tube to the aorta, and distributed throughout the body.

Electronic Control System

The electronic control system is the "brain" of the VAD and controls its functioning. It is worn outside the body and connected to a tube (with wires inside) that goes into the body and is connected to the electric pump.

Power Supply

The third part is a power supply (rechargeable batteries) that is connected to the electronic control system and powers the VAD. Patients wear the electronic control system on a belt and the batteries on a vest-like shoulder holster.

Better Survival Rates, Quality of Life

Research conducted at NewYork-Presbyterian has demonstrated that patients with the implanted HeartMate VAD had much better survival rates and quality of life compared patients who were treated with medication and were medically monitored.

Devices in Use Today

The following devices are used to bridge patients to transplant:

  • Thoratec HeartMate II® – This VAD features a small size that makes it suitable for a wide range of patients, including those of smaller stature. It is currently the gold standard. Learn More
  • HeartMate XVE ®(also known as HeartMate I®) – The HeartMate XVE® is the only VAD for patients needing intermediate to chronic circulatory support that does not require the use of anticlotting drugs. 
  • HeartWare™ – This miniature ventricular assist device has one moving part – an "impeller" – which works in sync with a magnetic and hydrodynamic system to propel blood from the heart to other parts of the body. It is an investigational therapy. Learn More



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