LVAD implants as an alternative to Heart Transplants

LVAD implants as an alternative to Heart Transplants

Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) is the number 1 killer on the planet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.9 million people died from CVD in 2016, out of which a large proportion was due to heart attack and stroke.

Various conditions such as a weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), coronary artery disease (CAD), heart valve disease, a congenital heart defect, abnormal heart rhythms and failure of a previous heart transplant can all lead to heart failure. And when medication or surgery has not been effective in treating the condition, heart transplant becomes an inevitable option.

Heart Transplants are not for everyone

However, a heart transplant is not a feasible option for many people. Any of the following conditions can rule out somebody as a candidate for a heart transplant:

  • Advancing age which limits the ability to recover from transplantation surgery
  • Chronic kidney disease, liver or lung disease
  • An active infection
  • A personal or family medical history of cancer
  • A history of smoking or alcohol abuse

Risks associated with Heart Transplant

Once your physician has ruled out the above possibilities and certified you as a candidate for heart transplant, there are still risks associated with a transplant.

  • Rejection of the donor heart: The immune system of the donor sees the transplanted heart as a foreign object and tries to reject it, which can damage the new heart.
  • Primary graft failure: The new heart stops functioning after the first few months
  • Problems with the recipient’s arteries: The walls of the arteries in the heart can thicken and harden, leading to a heart attack or sudden cardiac death.
  • Medication side-effects: The medication you must take for the rest of your life can cause chronic kidney damage and other problems.
  • Cancer: The immune-suppressants you must take for the rest of your life can trigger skin and lip tumours or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

VAD as an effective option

For all those people who are not candidates for heart transplantation, Ventricular Assist Devices or VADs are a feasible option. VADs were originally designed as a “bridge to transplant” which means it’s implanted in the interval that one is waiting for a heart transplant. However, in recent years, advances in the design of VADs have rendered it as a permanent option for CVD patients, with some risks however.

What is an LVAD?

The left ventricle receives oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium and pumps it to the rest of the body through the aorta. For patients with CVD, the pumping action may not be very efficient. So that is simulated now using a man-made device called Left Ventricular Assist Device.

The LVAD is a mechanical pump that is implanted in the upper part of the abdomen. It pulls oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium and pumps it to the aorta. A battery and control system that is worn outside the body delivers power and regulates the pump. A tube connects the pump inside the body with the systems outside the body.

Hope to Heart Patients

With the popularity and effectiveness of LVADs increasing over the years, more research will be invested in to designing superior LVADs. This brings hope to all heart patients who can neither recover fully nor receive a transplant.

If you are suffering from a debilitating heart disease, Health Travellers Worldwide, an NABH accredited health advisory can help you connect with the top Cardiologists and Cardiothoracic Surgeons to help you manage your heart condition.

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