For people with heart failure, the heart can’t adequately meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. Whether the result of damage, a medical condition or a congenital heart disorder, heart failure compromises the heart’s ability to pump blood to the body.
Heart failure may be chronic or acute, but once it develops, it cannot be cured. Fortunately, an LVAD offers hope to people living with heart failure.
The Heart at a Glance
The heart is divided into four chambers. Atop sit the left and right atria which receive blood. Below are the more muscular ventricles, which pump blood away from the heart to the body. People with heart failure have a weakened heart, which impairs the ventricle’s capacity to pump blood.
Preventing Heart Failure with an LVAD
An LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) is an aptly named mechanical pump that can be surgically implanted into the upper part of the abdomen. Once in the abdomen, the LVAD has a tube that draws blood from the left ventricle and into a pump. The blood is then pumped, by the LVAD, into the aorta, which distributes oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Living with an LVAD may be long-term or as a bridge to a heart transplant.
When an LVAD Is a Bridge to Transplant
In some cases, people with advanced heart failure are waiting for a heart transplant. However, it can take years before a donor heart may become available. During this time, a weakened heart may deteriorate further, to the point where it cannot effectively function. An LVAD may be used as a “bridge to transplant,” helping to prevent against heart failure until a heart transplant is possible.