A Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD, is a mechanical pump that can be implanted within the chest to support heart function in people with advanced heart failure. It’s common to wonder about what life is like with an LVAD, and we have answers to four of the most frequently asked questions.
1. How Do I Care for the Line Coming Out of My Body?
The driveline connects the pump to the controller on the outside of the body. The exit site, where the driveline comes out, will need to be kept clean to prevent infection. When you care for your driveline, you should remain as still as possible to avoid irritating the surrounding skin, as irritation can turn into infection. Your care team will show you how to change your dressings.
2. What Are My Restrictions?
Hiking, cycling and traveling with an LVAD (with minor accommodations) are all possible. You can also enjoy sexual intimacy, though you’ll need to avoid putting pressure on the equipment or irritating the driveline. Showering is okay, as you’ll be given a special bag to keep your device dry. Because an LVAD can’t be submerged, you cannot swim. Contact sports should also be avoided, and you’ll always need to be near a source of electrical power.
3. What Medications Will I Need to Take?
You’ll continue to take all of your heart medications, although the frequency and dosage may change. Additional medications may be prescribed.
4. Can I Drive?
While your chest is healing, you won’t be able to operate a motor vehicle but you can be a passenger. Once you’ve recovered, your cardiologist may give you the green light to get behind the wheel.