What is an LVAD?
LVAD stands for Left Ventricular Assist Device. It is a mechanical device that circulates blood throughout the body when the heart is too weak to pump blood on its own. It is sometimes called a “heart pump” or “VAD.” HeartMate II is a miniaturized implantable LVAD that represents a breakthrough in medical technology and has rapidly become the most widely used device of its kind in the world.
Is HeartMate II an artificial heart?
No. HeartMate II is not an artificial heart, nor is it a heart replacement. The patient’s native heart is not removed. HeartMate II attaches to the heart and is designed to assist – or take over -the pumping function of the patient’s left ventricle -the main pumping chamber of the heart.
How does HeartMate II work?
HeartMate II is designed to take over the pumping function of the patient’s left ventricle. The device is placed just below the diaphragm in the abdomen. It is attached to the left ventricle, and the aorta, the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the left ventricle to the entire body. An external, wearable system that includes a small controller and two batteries is attached by an external driveline. The wearable system is either worn under or on top of clothing.
How does HeartMate II help a heart failure patient?
HeartMate II is designed to restore blood flow throughout the body, enabling the patient to breathe more easily and feel less fatigued. The patient’s organs will receive more blood than they did before receiving the LVAD, and this will likely improve their organ function. After receiving an LVAD, patients generally feel more energetic and are able to resume normal activities that they were unable to do prior to receiving the device.
How active are patients with the HeartMate II?
Because patients are in a severe stage of heart failure before receiving the device, they typically very limited in terms of activity level. After receiving HeartMate II, the majority of patients can return to their favorite daily activities, with the primary limitation being water immersion. Many patients are able to return to work and resume hobbies that they haven’t been able to do for years.
How is HeartMate II used?
HeartMate II may be used to support patients and improve their quality of life while they wait for a donor heart to become available. This is known as “Bridge-to-Transplantation.” It may also be used as a permanent option for patients who are not eligible for heart transplantation, due to age or other medical conditions. Usage of the device in this manner is known as “Destination Therapy.” Without this therapy, advanced heart failure patients would have extremely poor prospects for survival and a very limited lifestyle.
How long can HeartMate II be used?
Studies on HeartMate II started five years ago and there are patients who have been supported for that entire period of time.
How long do the batteries last?
The latest generation of batteries used to support LVADs may last up to 14 hours before needing to be recharged.
Who can get a HeartMate II?
Patients suffering from advanced heart failure and who have exhausted the limitations of medical therapies may be candidates to receive a HeartMate II. Due to the device’s ability to allow the patient’s heart to rest and take over the pumping function, it has been shown that the LVAD provides the opportunity for a weakened heart to regain some of its own function. Patients should consult a physician to find out if they are a candidate for LVAD therapy.
Does someone with a HeartMate II still have a pulse?
A patient who is implanted with a HeartMate II usually has a dampened pulse. The reason for this is that HeartMate II moves blood from the heart to the body continuously along with the heartbeat. The “strength” of the patient’s pulse will depend on how much assistance the LVAD is providing to the heart.
Is HeartMate II FDA approved?
Yes. HeartMate II is the only continuous-flow LVAD that has been approved for both Bridge-to-Transplantation and Destination Therapy.
How big are LVADs?
LVADs vary in size, but the HeartMate II -the smallest of all the FDA-approved LVADs -measures approximately 3 inches in length and weighs approximately 10 ounces.