Heart failure is a disease that prevents the heart from supplying enough blood to support the body’s needs, leaving people who suffer from it unable to do even simple daily tasks. While it can often be treated with medications, sometimes they’re not effective and patients require a heart transplant. Still other times, a heart transplant may not be an option for a patient either.
When neither medication nor heart transplant is an option, there are devices available that can artificially help the heart function. One is a Ventricular Assist Device—or VAD. It doesn’t replace your heart, but works with it. This finger-sized pump is implanted next to your heart and runs on a battery pack you carry on your side.
VADs dramatically improve heart failure symptoms in many patients. In fact, survival rates for patients with VADs are quickly approaching those of patients with heart transplants. Many of the patients the UR Medicine team has treated with VADs go one to live active lives, participating in activities like hiking, golf and camping.
These devices can also help a patient stay healthy temporarily while they wait for a donor transplant heart to become available.
VAD implants require open-heart surgery. You’ll be under general anesthesia for this procedure.
After surgery, you’ll stay in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for two to three days, followed by a move to a regular hospital room, where you’ll work with nurses and physical therapists as you recover. Most patients receiving a VAD return home within two to four weeks. You’ll need to take several medications after your implantation, such as blood thinner to prevent clots in your VAD.
As one of the most experienced VAD centers in the U.S., UR Medicine offers patients the most advanced and effective VADs available today. We’ve been involved in almost all of the major VAD trials for the past decade and implanted over 400 VADs in recent years helping us develop expertise in numerous devices, including:
Through housing such as Harbor House of Rochester, we provide safe and supportive lodging for families traveling to Rochester for heart failure treatment.