LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device)

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a battery-operated device used to help the left ventricle pump blood through the body.

It can be used in a variety of settings for patients who:

  • Are waiting for a heart transplantation
  • Have advanced stages of dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Have chronic heart failure and are not candidates for heart transplantation
  • Have experienced organ rejection after heart transplantation
  • Have had massive heart attacks with no other treatment options
  • Have myocarditis
  • Have undergone heart surgery but cannot be taken off cardiopulmonary bypass.

There are three categories for LVAD use:

Short term
In high-risk patients who cannot sustain life over the long term
Intermediate term
In patients with high risk of complications for up to 500 days
Long term
In patients with advanced heart failure who need support outside the hospital

LVAD as Long-Term Treatment

Because of the limited number of available donor hearts, LVAD therapy is becoming more commonly performed than heart transplantation. While LVAD survival rates do not yet equal those of heart transplantation, they are getting ever closer. The devices are getting smaller, more durable, and less complicated from a surgical standpoint. Doctors are expecting that, in the future, patients will live even longer with the aid of LVADs.

Firsts in Dallas

UT Southwestern has played an integral role throughout the relatively short history of LVAD therapy and in the devices’ rapidly evolving technology. Not only was the UTSW Ventricular Assist Program the first to implement a pneumatic LVAD and among the first in the nation to be approved for LVAD destination therapy, it was also the first program in Dallas to implant an FDA-approved rotary pump and the only North Texas center to participate in the HeartWare Bridge-to-Transplant trial, which completed last year and received FDA approval in November 2012.