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FAQ: What Are LVADs? Are They A Better Alternative To Heart Transplant?

LVAD is an example of an implanted device used for the prevention of last stage heart failure.

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While until a few years ago, heart transplant was seen as the only attempt to save someone suffering from heart failure, thanks to technological developments, medical implant devices are emerging as an alternative to such surgeries.

Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) is an example of an implanted device used for the prevention of last-stage heart failure.

LVADs have been introduced as a negligibly interfering method of implanting a heart pump for people with congestive heart failure. Here's all you need to know about LVADs.

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What are LVADs and how do they work?

Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) are medical devices that are used to help pump blood from the left ventricle of the heart to the rest of the body. These devices are typically used in people suffering from heart failure.

LVADs are battery-operated mechanical pumps implanted surgically in the heart. They pump the blood out to the rest of the body, bypassing the weakened or damaged heart.

LVADs can be used as a bridge to heart transplantation, as a permanent treatment for heart failure in patients who are not candidates for heart transplantation, or as a temporary measure to allow the heart to recover after surgery or a heart attack.

The long-term survival rate of LVADs is similar to that of a heart transplant and patients can live an improved quality of life post undergoing this procedure. Over time, with the advancement of technology, LVADs have become more affordable, effective, and easy to use.
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Who needs an LVAD?

LVADs are not appropriate for all patients with heart failure, and the decision to use an LVAD will depend on many factors, such as

  • The severity of the heart failure

  • The patient's overall health

  • Their individual circumstances

Patients who may be candidates for an LVAD will need to undergo a thorough evaluation by a cardiologist that specialises in advanced heart failure treatment.

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Is LVAD a better option for patients with advanced heart failure compared to a heart transplant?

  • LVADs are more safe and accessible

  • Patients don't have to wait for donors or struggle due to persistent shortage of donors

  • LVADs require fewer consultations post treatment

But, the most important prerequisite is to have a healthy right heart function as LVAD can only support the right side. Patients with both sides of heart failing will require a transplant.

What are the benefits of LVADs? Can having to live with this device affect a person's daily routine?

  • LVADs have been shown to improve survival in patients

  • Improved quality of life

  • Increased physical activity

  • Reduction in hospitalisations

While it may take some time to get used to having an LVAD, it helps the patient

  • Lead a more active life

  • Improves the patient's strength

What should patients keep in mind after getting an LVAD?

Post treatment, the patient must

  • Follow a balanced diet

  • Quit smoking

  • Avoid drinking alcohol

  • Exercise regularly

  • Go for regular check-ups every 6-8 months

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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