Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
The heart has four muscular pumping chambers:
the right atrium, the left atrium, the right ventricle, and the left ventricle.
The left ventricle pumps blood out through a large artery, called the aorta,
to supply the body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs.
In left-sided heart failure, the left ventricle is not able to pump enough blood to the body.
The two types of left-handed heart failure are diastolic, where the left ventricle can't relax enough to fill with blood
and, more commonly, systolic where the left ventricle can't contract strongly enough to push blood to the body.
In severe, or end-stage, heart failure, the heart is getting weaker, and doesn’t respond to medication.
For left sided, end-stage systolic heart failure, a doctor may recommend an implantable left ventricular assist device,
or LVAD to help the heart pump enough blood to the body.
An LVAD is a small mechanical pump implanted inside the chest or abdomen that
takes over the job of the weak left ventricle.
Blood flows from the left ventricle through an inflow tube to the pump.
The pump pushes the blood through an outflow tube into the aorta.
From here, the blood travels normally from the aorta to the rest of the body.
A cable, called a driveline, connects the LVAD pump inside the chest
to a control unit located on the outside of the body.
The control unit is a small computer that controls the functions of the pump and alerts the patient if there are any problems.
The pump and control unit receive power through a cord connected to a battery pack.
Finally, the control unit and battery pack are held in a lightweight patient pack.
An LVAD may be a temporary treatment until a heart transplant can be performed.
Or, if the patient isn’t able to have a heart transplant, an LVAD may be used for destination therapy
which is a long term treatment.