Mechanical Circulatory Assistance

Cox - Drazner
Hughes Cox, M.D. (left), recognized destination therapy as his best hope for recovery and found out about the LVAD program – and Mark Drazner, M.D. – from a family friend.

A mechanical circulatory assistance device (MCA) is a pump that helps pump blood throughout the body in patients who have severely weakened hearts. Most of these devices are attached to the left ventricle of the heart and help the heart do its work.

Some other names for these devices are:

LVAD
Left ventricular assist device
VAD
Ventricular assist device
VAS
Ventricular assist system

Traditionally, the LVAD temporarily assists a patient waiting for a heart transplant. This use of the LVAD is called “bridge-to-transplant” therapy.

UT Southwestern Medical Center has been part of an exclusive group of hospital systems nationwide approved to use the LVAD to help patients in a more permanent way. Patients who are not eligible for heart transplants may be given an LVAD as an alternative to a heart transplant. Such use of the LVAD is called “destination therapy.”

Our surgical team has the most experience in North Texas with the LVAD."

Mark Drazner, M.D.
Professor, Internal Medicine

Our surgical team has the most experience in North Texas with the LVAD. In fact, we were part of an exclusive group of 20 of the nation’s leading medical centers chosen to take part in the REMATCH trial (Randomized Evaluation of Mechanical Assistance for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure). This landmark trial was sponsored in part by the National Institutes of Health.

The LVAD still has its risks. If you have heart failure and are living at home but are not very functional, the LVAD can greatly improve your quality of life. You can go back to doing the things you did before such as driving a car, traveling by air, and going about your daily activities.