VAD DEFINITIONA VAD, also known as a ventricular assist device, is a gadget responsible for assisting your heart in pumping blood from its lower chambers (i.e., the ventricles, hence the name) to the rest of your body. It's an implantable mechanical pump used in patients who've undergone heart failure or possess weakened hearts.
VAD PURPOSEA VAD is useful in helping people with failing hearts to continue functioning. It's typically used if you need a transitory implant before heart transplant, if the heart's weakness is temporary, or if you can't have a heart transplant and a VAD is your only chance for survival.
VAD RISKSThere are several risks associated with VAD implantation, and they include bleeding, infection, device malfunctions, blood clots, and failure of one of the parts of your heart because it can't keep up with the increased amount of pumping that the implant delivers.
VAD PREPARATION REQUIREDYou'll first stay in the hospital in order to be prepped for surgery. You'll then go through an echocardiogram, chest x-ray, blood tests, electrocardiogram, and cardiac catheterization procedures. You'll also be briefed on how the VAD works as well as the care and maintenance you'll have to observe to keep it running.
The VAD implantation procedure itself is basically open-heart surgery, with the implantable mechanical pump replacing the donor heart. The cut will be made down the center of your chest, and your heart is stopped during surgery. After implantation, you'll be stitched up and transferred to the ICU.
VAD COMPLICATIONSImplantation and VAD usage comes with certain possible complications, and they include the formation of blood clots, post-surgery hemorrhaging, infection (and its symptoms like fever and swelling), and right heart failure if you've been implanted an LVAD (left ventricle assist device).
VAD SIDE EFFECTSThe only immediate side effect you'll be experiencing is pain after surgery. You should be able to deal with the post-surgery side effects of soreness and oozing liquid (requires drainage) from the surgery wound with proper recovery time (six to eight weeks), post-surgery care, and rehab.
VAD RESULTSIf everything goes well, you should be able to return to your normal life while the VAD stealthily assists your heart pumping as though it weren't even there. After surgery, there will be some follow-up visits to the doctor to check if the VAD is working properly and if you've been suffering from any post-surgery complications.