What is a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)?
What is a VAD?
A VAD, which stands for ventricular assist device, is an artificial heart pump that either temporarily or permanently takes over the pumping function of the heart.
A VAD has 2 components:
- A pump (surgically implanted through blood vessels in the leg or by open heart surgery)
- A battery-operated power source (outside the body and connected by wires)
VADs are used to help the heart supply vital blood flow to the various organs of the body when the heart cannot do this job on its own. They are generally used in the following situations:
Types of VADs
There are 2 types of VADs:
- Left ventricular assist device (LVAD): pumps blood from the left ventricle to the aorta (the main artery that carries blood to the body)
- Right ventricular assist device (RVAD): pumps blood from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery (the artery that carries blood to the lungs to get oxygen)
VADs can be either internal or external.
Internal VADs (implantable VADs) require open heart surgery. The pump is placed inside the chest; the power source remains outside the body. They are connected by wires that are run through a small hole through the skin on the side of the abdomen.
Internal VADs are for long-term use in people who are waiting for heart transplants or in people who are not heart transplant candidates.
External VADs (transcutaneous VADs) use a pump and a power source that are both outside the body.
Transcutaneous VADs are for short-term use.
There are some risks associated with VADs. VAD complications may include:
- Blood clots
- Device malfunction
At Wake Forest Baptist Health, you'll have a team of health care professionals who will monitor your condition before, during and after your VAD placement. Your team may include heart doctors (cardiologists), nurse specialists and others.
You may request an appointment with a Heart Center doctor by filling out our online form.
Learn more about Wake Forest Baptist's cardiology services.