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Ventricular Assist Device Program

Our ventricular assist device (VAD) team helps patients with advanced heart failure live healthier, fuller lives. Depending on your medical condition, a VAD, or heart pump, can be used as a bridge to transplant, put in place while you wait for a heart to become available. A VAD is also an option if you are 70 or older and not eligible for a heart transplant.

What's a VAD?

A VAD is an artificial device designed to help your heart pump blood.

How Does a VAD Work?

A heart pump is designed to help blood flow from your ventricle, to your aorta, and then through the rest of your body. Thanks to recent innovations, even long-term implantable devices can be maintained from anywhere with electrical support and proper care.

Are You a VAD candidate?

During the application evaluation process, our team will work together with you and your cardiologist to determine whether or not a VAD is the right advanced therapy for you.

Types of VADs

The HeartMate III (HM III) is the most commonly used VAD at Florida Hospital.

The HM III has four main parts:

  • The implantable heart pump
  • The cannulas (tubes) connect your heart to the blood pump
  • A percutaneous driveline passes through the skin and connects to the pump inside your body, the system controller, and power source outside of the body.
  • A system controller, which is a small computer that controls the pump. It's powered by a power base module that plugs into the wall outlet or by rechargeable batteries.

Getting Your LVAD

The LVAD is implanted during open heart surgery by our team of world renowned heart surgeons.

Caring for your LVAD

After surgery, our team will help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. You'll leave Florida Hospital armed with detailed instructions on caring for your LVAD and your total health.

Here are some important things to know about life with your LVAD:

  • You need consistent electricity and phone services at home to support your LVAD services
  • You'll need to come back to our Institute for frequent appointments to assess your LVAD's function and your driveline exit site.
  • You will be able to return to a fairly normal lifestyle, with limitations. Because the equipment associated with your LVAD is electrical and is outside the body, you won't be able to swim or take baths. You'll be able to shower once your driveline has healed and your surgeon gives you the go ahead.
  • Avoid contact sports. They can damage your VAD and your driveline, leading to reoperation.

 

Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners):

  • You may be prescribed long-term use of blood thinners, such as Coumadin (warfarin) to prevent blood clot formation. If you are on Coumadin (warfarin), we'll need to monitor you with frequent blood tests.
  • Blood thinners have two primary risks: bleeding and clotting. Even if you have a minor accident, you may need to be checked out by a healthcare provider for signs of internal bleeding, which can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications.

A Healthy Lifestyle

Treating your VAD with care means treating your body well. Your VAD team will create a detailed health and maintenance plan designed to help you keep your VAD working to its full potential.

  • Diet
    Eating healthy nutritious meals will help to maintain a recommended weight and may help you lose extra weight. Drink plenty of fluids. You need an adequate blood volume for the VAD to adequately pump blood to your body.
  • Pregnancy
    Speak with your doctor regarding family planning before, during and after VAD implantation.
  • Exercise
    Exercise regularly under your physician's supervision.
  • Smoking
    Smoking constricts blood vessels and is a major risk factor in coronary artery disease. We'll need you to commit to quitting before and after VAD surgery. If you need help, just ask. Our team can help you find the resources you need.
  • Alcohol/Drugs
    Alcohol and illicit drug use (including marijuana) are off limits for all VAD patients.
  • Medication
    We can't stress how important it is that you and your caregiver follow your medication regimen to the letter. Your VAD team will give you detailed instructions before you head home.
  • Institute Appointments
    You'll need to come back often for Institute appointments and evaluations. If you need guidance finding a place to stay locally, we can help you find the resources you need.