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A ventricular assist device, or VAD, is a mechanical pump that helps failing hearts pump blood throughout the body.

As heart failure progresses, the heart's chambers become weaker and less able to circulate blood throughout the body. A VAD takes over the pumping function of the lower chambers (ventricles).

VADs are used either as a permanent solution to heart failure (known as destination therapy) or as a bridge to heart transplant.

At the UM Capital Heart and Vascular Institute, our heart surgery team are experts at implanting VADs. To learn more or to make an appointment, call 301-640-6622.

How VADs Work

When someone has heart failure, it means your heart can't pump blood as well as it should. While treatable, heart failure sometimes cannot be reversed and requires surgery.

A VAD is an option for those whose heart failure affects the heart's two lower chambers.

It is an implantable device that can help one or both of the ventricles pump blood. Most commonly, the device is used to support the left ventricle, which pumps blood through the body's main blood vessel to the rest of the body. This is called an LVAD (left ventricular assist device).

VAD Surgery

During surgery, a pump and tubes are implanted under the skin. The pump takes over the function of the ventricle, and tubes carry the blood to the proper blood vessels.

The pump is connected to a control unit on the outside of the body. This unit is a computer that controls the pump and alerts the patient if there are any issues with the device.

The device can be implanted either through open surgery or through minimally invasive options. We approach each patient differently and will recommend the best option for you or your loved one.

Who is a Candidate?

We evaluate each patient to find the best approach for them. People who may be candidates for a VAD include:

  • Patients who have heart failure which can not be treated by medication any longer
  • Patients waiting for a heart transplant
  • Those who are not a candidate for heart transplant

If a VAD is the best option for you, we will discuss the different VAD options to find an approach that will best help you.

Make an Appointment

To learn more about VADs or to make an appointment with our heart surgery team, call 301-640-6622.