As technological advancements continue to create options for heart patients, so does our commitment to heart failure therapy.

What to Expect

with VADS

Questions & Answers


Because your heart is sick and weak, it is unable to pump enough blood to your body’s organs and tissues.  For this reason your physician is offering you the option of being treated with a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) or heart pump. The VAD is a system designed to help the heart pump enough blood to the body.  To accomplish this, blood flows from the heart to the VAD, and then back to the body.


These devices may be used to support right heart function, left heart function, or both at the same time.  The pump(s) may be either implanted into your body or left resting on your abdomen (external). There are several different types available. The surgeon will decide which is best for you based on your size and heart’s requirements. VAD support is not an option for everyone; however many patients who are candidates for this support report feeling better, stronger, and are frequently able to return home with the VAD in place.  Implantation of ventricular assist devices requires major heart surgery.


Caring for a VAD at home is a complex medical regime therefore; you will need to identify several committed people to help you.  Prior to implantation of this device, the surgeon will discuss any potential risks or complications with you and/or your family.  You have the right to refuse having a VAD or VADs implanted.  Without intervention your condition will likely continue to deteriorate.


The VAD will assist your heart in pumping blood to your body with the goal of this therapy to be that you feel better, live longer, and have a better quality of life.




If you and your doctor decide that you are a good candidate for a VAD, it is an open heart surgical procedure. The procedure will take approximately 4-6 hours.  As with any cardiothoracic surgery, there are potential risks, including, and not limited to, bleeding, need for blood transfusions, infection, stroke, any major organ failure, and/or death. As with all surgeries there is always the potential of unforeseeable risks.


You will sign a consent form for the surgical procedure immediately before surgery. The risks associated with general anesthesia will be specifically discussed with you by your anesthesiologist at the time of your VAD placement. After surgery you will be in the Intensive care unit for several days and then transferred to a surgical floor to continue with recovery and to begin a program of rehabilitation.


During this period you and your caregivers will receive extensive education on how to manage your care at home with the VAD. You will need to have a caregiver available to care for you at home continuously. As you improve a caregiver will still be required to provide 24 hour a day assistance/availability.




After surgery, your VAD team will give you thorough instructions on VAD care in preparation for discharge home. They will explain how to care for the surgical site and address issues of personal hygiene, activity, and other questions you may have. Because the equipment associated with a VAD is outside the body, you must avoid water immersion and contact sports. However, playing in the back yard with your family, walking the dog, and many other activities are all in the realm of normal and expected.


Keep in mind a few good habits for a healthy VAD lifestyle:

1.    Eat healthy, nutritious foods and drink plenty of fluids

2.    Lose any extra weight

3.    Exercise regularly under your doctor's supervision


You will continue to require taking medications after surgery. Anti-coagulation, or blood thinners, is an integral part of the VAD treatment. It is extremely important that you take your medication regularly, monitor the medication level and communicate any abnormality to your assigned coordinator.


We all know it is overwhelming, but we are here to help you overcome all difficulties that you may face. Our goal will always be to get you back to a healthier and active lifestyle.

Heart Devices

HeartMate II Back to Top

The HeartMate II is Thoratec's first-line intermediate-to-chronic left ventricular assist device. Designed to dramatically improve survival and quality of life, the HeartMate II was developed with the goal of providing several years of circulatory support for a broad range of advanced heart failure patients.

PVAD  Back to Top

With more than 20 years of clinical use, the Thoratec PVAD (Paracorporeal

Ventricular Assist Device) provides acute-to-intermediate support in patients of virtually any size.  The PVAD has been proven in more than 260 centers and

4,400 patients worldwide.

Centrimag Back to Top

The CentriMag blood pump is an extracorporeal circulatory support device providing hemodynamic stabilization in patients in need of cardiopulmonary support. Cleared for clinical use up to six hours, CentriMag can be used as a short-term solution to support the circulation while longer-term options are considered.

Impella Back to Top

The Impella 5.0 catheter is an intravascular microaxial blood pump that delivers up to 5.0 L/min of forward flow blood from the left ventricle to the aorta.  The Impella 5.0 can be inserted into the left ventricle via femoral cut down or through the axillary artery. The Impella 5.0 pump goes through the ascending aorta, across the valve and into the left ventricle.

HeartWare Back to Top

At the core of the HeartWare Ventricular Assist System is the HVAD Pump. The pump sits inside your chest and is connected directly to your heart. It pumps blood from the left side of your heart into your aorta (large blood vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body). The blood exits the pump in a continuous stream much like water out of a garden hose.

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