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Left Ventricular Assist Devices

left ventricular assist device or LVAD is a surgically implanted mechanism that helps your heart to pump blood.

Your heart has four chambers. The upper two are called the "atria"; the lower two are called the "ventricles". The two chambers on the right, pump blood to your lungs. The two chambers on the left, pump oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to all the other parts of your body.

A left ventricular assist device can take over the left ventricle's pumping role when that ventricle fails to function properly.

Part of the device is implanted (in your heart and abdomen), and part remains outside your body. You can carry the external portions of the device on a belt around your waist or under a shoulder strap.

What does an LVAD consist of?
Left ventricular assist devices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most versions have an electric pump, an electronic controller (which is the size of a WalkmanÒ), an energy supply, (usually a battery weighing eight pounds), and two tubes. One tube carries blood from your left ventricle into the device. The other receives blood from the device and brings it to a large blood vessel called, the "aorta". Your aorta brings blood to your brain and other organs.

Why has my doctor ordered this device for me?
Some people require a ventricular assist device after cardiopulmonary bypass surgery, to temporarily assist one of the ventricles until the heart recovers, and can function on its own.

You may have "congestive heart failure". If you have this disease, your heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet your body's demands. Your heart is working, but not as efficiently as it should . Mild or moderate heart failure usually can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes. Severe heart failure may be unresponsive to medicine and other interventions. In such cases, heart transplants are often recommended.

Most likely, your doctor ordered an LVAD for you because your are a candidate for transplantation. You need this device for survival until a suitable donor heart is available. That is why an LVAD is sometimes called, "The bridge to transplantation."

Every person who needs a transplant, must register on a waiting list. For purposes of heart transplants, the United States is divided into geographic regions. Each region has its own waiting list. Some lists are longer than others. Everyone on your list is assigned to a hospital in your region. The length of time you will spend on your waiting list depends on the length of the list, the availability of suitable donor hearts, and your status.

If you require an LVAD, you are Status One. This means that when a suitable heart is available in your region, it


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