Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)
The heart is divided into four chambers, namely – the right and left atria, then the right and left ventricles. The left ventricle is located just below the left atrium that is divided by the mitral valve. The role of the left ventricle is to pump the oxygenated blood through the aorta then to the entire body to supply blood through a systemic circulation.
However, there are cases when a person’s left ventricle may not be functioning properly. At times, it becomes weak due to a condition or disease. There are also cases that the left ventricle can even stop completely. For these problems, the left ventricular assist device or LVAD was developed. Those who have had a LVAD implanted into their chest wall should live close to a fire station in case they needed ACLS emergency care. Never the less, this should not be a determining factor when receiving your Left Ventricular Assist Device.
What is a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)?
A left ventricular assist device or LVAD is a mechanical device that’s implanted to a person’s chest which provides aid to a weakened or dysfunctional heart to help the left ventricle pump blood effectively throughout the body. However, it should be noted that the left ventricular assist device doesn’t replace the heart, unlike a total artificial heart.
It provides help by regulating the rate and rhythm of a person who has just undergone a heart surgery or for those patients who are candidates for heart transplantation. LVAD may also serve as a therapy or long term management for those with heart problems but can’t undergo heart surgeries or heart transplantation because of certain reasons like age, cardiopulmonary status or other health problems that can put the patient at risk during surgery.
What is the Purpose of a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)?
The left ventricular assist device acts just like a pump. It is implanted through surgery. While one end is attached to the left ventricle, another end is attached to the aorta. This allows adequate ejection of blood from the left ventricle to be pumped to the aorta. The left ventricular assist device ensures adequate blood flow in cases when the heart is weakened by a cardiovascular disease or any related condition.
When there is inadequate blood flow, symptoms like shortness of breath and fatigue arise. The LVAD provides relief to these symptoms by promoting ventricular blood flow. When a patient has a left ventricular assist device, performance in exercise, organ function and cardiac status improves significantly.
Currently, there are also LVADs capable of delivering a regulated amount of shock in cases of cardiac emergencies. However, compared to specialized pacemakers, LVADs still maintain their role in just supporting the heart.