In many cases, heart failure progresses despite all of the work that patients, physicians and families put into treating this chronic illness. In past years, the only treatment option for end stage heart failure was a heart transplant. Every year 50,000 people need a heart transplant in the U.S., but only 2,000 to 2,500 people will get one.
The good news is that new treatment options are now available for these patients.
Watch Bruno's story and see how his VAD has gotten him back to pursuing the things he loves.
What is a VAD?
Ventricular assist devices or VADs can be an effective treatment for advanced heart failure. A VAD is surgically implanted and assists a failing heart by helping the heart to pump more effectively. Prior to and after implantation of a VAD, we offer you and your family education and instruction on how to care for the VAD. Patients and family members are interviewed to ensure a support structure exists before VAD implantation.
How does a VAD work?
The VAD pulls blood from the left ventricle and pumps it into the aorta (the large blood vessel that circulates blood to the body and the head).The heart still “beats” and moves in the chest, but the VAD assists the heart in circulating blood to other vital organs.
What does the VAD look like once it is implanted?
Most VADs rest close to the bottom of the heart inside the chest. A “skinline” (the power cable) exits out of the right upper abdomen. It is attached to the system driver, which is about the size of a large wallet, and is strapped around the waist. This system driver is powered either by batteries that fit in a holster supported by the patient's shoulders or to a main power/charger box that is plugged into an electrical outlet at home. The batteries help the patient to remain mobile and to carry on normal activities such as working or shopping, for up to 12 hours. The main power box is used at home while sleeping and for device monitoring.
Who is eligible to receive a VAD?
Currently, VADs are implanted for three reasons in heart failure patients who no longer respond to medications or have received the maximum benefit from medical/pacemaker therapies.
Bridge to transplantation: to help support a patient’s life until a donor heart becomes available.
Bridge to recovery/decision: For patients recovering from heart surgery and whose heart is seriously ill. The VAD helps the heart recover from shock and is used until a decision is made to transplant or until the heart shows signs of recovery.
Destination therapy: For patients who do not qualify for a heart transplant because of other illnesses or age.
Why should I choose The Christ Hospital for my VAD?
As Greater Cincinnati’s Heart Hospital℠, The Christ Hospital has been a world leader in heart care for more than 40 years. Choosing our team for heart failure care means having the comfort and trust of a team of experts and researchers who are dedicated to advanced heart failure care.
The VAD team at the accredited Carl H. & Edyth Lindner Heart Failure Treatment Center at The Christ Hospital consists of board-certified surgeons, cardiologists, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, dieticians, exercise specialists, psychologists and social workers. All members of the team have specialized training in the care of VAD patients.
The Christ Hospital has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™ for its Mechanical Heart Assist Device Program. A team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated the hospital for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of heart failure and VAD patients and families, including infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management.
This certification enables the program to offer destination therapy treatment with VAD.
What is the next step?
We welcome a conversation with you and your physicians about whether a VAD may be right for you. Please contact The Advanced Heart Failure Program at 513-206-1180 for more information.
For current patients who need assistance, please contact 513-585-4944.
The Christ Hospital welcomes you to a monthly VAD support group. If you are considering a VAD, or have a current or previous VAD implantation, we encourage you and your family to join us.