Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

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A ventricular assist device (VAD) is an implantable heart device that helps maintain the pumping ability of your heart if it cannot efficiently work on its own. This device is also often called a heart pump.


Some VADs are temporary, implanted as a method for keeping someone stable while waiting for a heart transplant. Other VADs are a permanent option used to treat advanced heart failure.


A VAD can be used to aid pumping of the heart’s left ventricle or its right, as well as both ventricles at the same time. In general, left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are more common than right ventricular assist devices.

Why Choose Houston Methodist for Your Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)

Under the leadership of renowned cardiologist Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, our specialists began implanting LVADS in the late 1990s. Since then, we have established an esteemed LVAD treatment program, performing around 60 LVAD procedures every year.


Your interdisciplinary team works together to evaluate whether a VAD is the best treatment option for your specific condition, as well as whether its right for your lifestyle. Our experts help you understand your options, including which type of ventricular assist device is best.


Our experts are also committed to improving these devices through research, leading and participating in the worldwide clinical trials studying the various ventricular assist systems.

About Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs)

If heart failure progresses to a point where standard treatments are no longer effective, a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or a heart transplant is often needed.


The primary benefit of an LVAD is that there is no waiting period for this procedure — whereas there is almost always a waiting period for heart transplant.


In this way, VADs can serve one of four “bridge therapy” functions:


  • Bridge to a transplant — buys time for the heart transplant candidate to wait for a suitable donor, while also providing the opportunity to gain strength and alleviate other side effects of severe cardiac failure
  • Bridge to palliative therapy — improves quality of life for those with end-stage heart failure who are not candidates for a heart transplant
  • Bridge to decision — buys time to determine whether a patient is a candidate for heart transplant
  • Bridge to recovery — provides the mechanical assistance the heart needs to improve cardiac function


You may be eligible for a VAD if you:


  • Have been hospitalized multiple times for heart failure
  • Require inotrope medication for your heart to function
  • Have an arrythmia that cannot be controlled via medication or other treatments
  • Have angina that cannot be controlled via mediations or other treatments
  • Are experiencing heart failure that’s accompanied by an ejection fraction (EF) less than 30%

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