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What is a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)?

An LVAD is a surgically inserted, mechanical heart pump used for the treatment of end-stage heart failure.

The pump supports, and in many cases, effectively takes over the function of the weakened left ventricle. This is the main chamber in your heart that pumps blood to your body.

An LVAD is used to improve quality of life and reduce symptoms of severe heart failure by:

  • Controlling heart failure symptoms until a heart transplant operation can be carried out (this is known as bridge to transplantation)
  • To help the heart recover (although it is not possible to predict or guarantee when, or indeed if, your heart will recover)
  • As a permanent, or destination, therapy (this is not currently funded by the NHS)

If you have been assessed for a heart transplant and the pressures are too high in the right side of your heart an LVAD may be an option for you. Your suitability for an LVAD can be identified by completing a diagnostic test called a right heart catheter.

If there is high pressure on the right side – the arteries between your heart and lungs will cause a newly transplanted heart to fail meaning you would not be a suitable candidate for transplant.

Last reviewed: 24 May 2023