An implanted left ventricular assist device relieves strain on a weakened heart and reduces symptoms of cardiovascular disease by improving blood flow, WebMD states. LVADs reinforce cardiac function, providing an alternative to an artificial heart, and the resulting improvement in blood circulation restores the efficiency of other organs.
For a patient awaiting a heart transplant, LVAD surgery can provide life-sustaining heart function until a donor organ is available, according to Cleveland Clinic. This process is known as bridge to transplant, and doctors may recommend it to patients with end-stage systolic heart failure who haven’t responded to other treatment, allowing them to continue living at home until the transplant surgery.
A temporary LVAD gives the heart time to regain strength after open heart surgery, WebMD explains. In contrast, a terminally ill patient who isn’t a candidate for a heart transplant may receive an LVAD for long-term cardiac support in a process known as destination therapy.
During LVAD surgery, the physician implants a mechanical pump below the heart and attaches one end to the aortic artery and the other end to the left heart chamber, according to WebMD. Blood passes from the heart chamber to the LVAD pump, and a sensor lets the device know when to circulate the blood to the aorta. An additional tube is routed through the patient’s skin, connecting the LVAD to a computer controller and an external power source that must be recharged daily.