Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s demands. There is no cure for heart failure, but the symptoms can be managed and a patient’s symptoms can even improve through the right monitoring and care plan.
For patients in the later stages of heart failure, medication, lifestyle changes and less intensive therapies may fail to improve their condition. For those patients, an LVAD implant can provide dramatic improvement to their quality of life, in some cases enabling patients to return to living independently, travel, exercise and even return to work.
What is an LVAD?
LVAD is a surgically implanted, battery-operated pump that supports the heart’s pumping function and helps circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
An LVAD implant is made up of:
- Heart Pump (LVAD): Connected to the left side of the heart and moves blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
- Batteries: Provide up to 17 hours of uninterrupted power.
- Driveline: Transfers power and information between the controller and heart pump. This component is partially outside the body.
- Controller: Powers and checks the pump and driveline. It weighs less than one pound, discreetly slips into a front pocket and alerts the user about how the system is working.
How does the LVAD implant work?
The LVAD implant has a tube that pulls blood from the left ventricle into a pump. The pump sends the blood to a large blood vessel that carries the blood from the heart to the rest of the body, called the aorta. Another tube goes from the pump to the outside of the body through the abdominal wall. The external portion of the LVAD contains the battery and control system.
Who is eligible for LVAD surgery?
Not all patients need an LVAD implant. Our multidisciplinary team at Georgia Heart Institute determines a patient’s eligibility for LVAD surgery carefully to ensure that the patient will truly benefit from the surgery. This team includes cardiac surgeons, heart failure providers, VAD coordinators and educators as well as representatives from psychology, palliative care, physical therapy and rehab, nursing pharmacy and the NGHS chaplain department. LVAD patients are determined based on heart failure status, prognosis, health history, and family/social support.
LVAD Procedure at Georgia Heart Institute
Our nationally respected cardiothoracic surgeons have been performing LVAD surgeries since 2018. Each year, we perform dozens of LVAD procedures and provide consistently high outcomes for heart failure patients. We have one of the highest-volume programs in the state of Georgia, ensuring that our patients have access to a team that has a high level of expertise.
Our patient navigators and VAD coordinators at the Advanced Heart Failure Program of Georgia Heart Institute will walk patients through each step of the process. As a comprehensive and patient-focused program, we walk alongside our patients on this journey to ensure that all of their questions are answered and they have the resources they need.
High Quality Clinical Outcomes
Through our multidisciplinary team, our patients are connected to a full spectrum of care to ensure the best outcomes from their surgery. We monitor patients closely and track our outcomes compared to national benchmarks on LVAD implants.
Many of our patients experience the benefits of:
- Fewer complications after implantation,
- Exceptionally low hospital readmission rates post-implant compared to national averages,
- A lower length of stay in the hospital after the implant procedure compared to national averages,
- Dramatic improvements in quality of life.
Post-Surgical Rehabilitation & Support
After a patient is released from the hospital, they will have post-surgical follow-ups with their LVAD care team, clinical oversight from their heart failure specialist and ongoing support.
Our rehabilitation program offers nutritional counseling, a customized and clinically monitored exercise program, access to life-long ongoing support and more. Most importantly, patients can return to many of the activities they enjoy once they recover from the procedure. Learn more about our rehab program.
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