Ventricular assist device (VAD)

Picture of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD)

A ventricular assist device (VAD), also known as a heart pump, is a mechanical device that helps pump blood from the heart to the rest of your body.

This picture shows a left-ventricular assist device (LVAD), which pulls blood from the left ventricle and pumps it to the aorta and the rest of the body. Other types of VADs pull blood from the right ventricle or both ventricles and pump it to the rest of the body. The heart still pumps some blood on its own. But the VAD helps the heart pump blood better.

A VAD can be implanted inside the body or worn outside the body. If it is implanted, surgery is done to place it in the chest area. The pump part of the VAD is placed in a small space in your upper abdomen. After the VAD has been implanted, your doctor will make another small incision in your side to connect the electrical wires that power the device.

The pump part of a VAD can be implanted, but the VAD battery and control system are worn outside the body. The battery pack and control system can be worn on a shoulder strap and belt.

Last Updated: August 25, 2008

Medical Review: Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology

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