A Ventricular Assist Device or a VAD is a mechanical pump. When a ventricle of heart (generally left) stops working properly, a VAD has to be attached to theventricle to supply blood through the body. Ventricles constitute the lower chamber of the heart. VAD support heart function and blood flow even in cases of heart failure. It includes a pump that is attached to the heart, an external controller, a cable to connect the pump with controller and a power source to run the device.
Market for the VAD
More than 300,000 people die of heart failure in USA every year. Many of these could have been saved with proper care and treatment. As a leap into the direction of saving these lives the global market for VAD is currently USD 800 million approximately and is expected to reach USD 2 billion by the year 2022. The market driving factors in this case is the increased reports of cardiovascular disease and advances in technology.
Doctors may take some tests before the surgery like- blood tests, echo, x-ray, etc. The surgery generally takes 4-6 hours. After administering anesthesia to the patient, the VAD is placed inside the chest in pericardial space. The pump is so small that it could be inserted by a very small cut. The pump is called LVAD if it is attached to the left ventricle, where it is usually placed. It collects oxygenated blood and passes it through the aorta. Doctors usually programme the pump to deliver the right blood flow, required by the body. The cable which is connected to the pump passes through the body from a small cut made in the skin and connects the pump with the controller.
The patient will have to recover in the hospital ward for 2-8 weeks. It is suggested to enrol into a cardiac rehabilitation program. There are medical guidelines to prevent infection and what to do in case the pump malfunctions, which have to be strictly followed.
There are many risks involved with VAD including blood clots, infections, device malfunction, etc. As to the blood clot doctor will prescribe an anticlotting medicine and for the rest just follow the guidelines. Many chronic diseases lead to heart failure. With the aging of a person their ability to remain stable with the help of medicine decreases. In cases of a person who are too critical to wait for a heart donor or those who are not suited for a heart transplant are kept on VAD support. VADs are now used as a lifetime support, enabling the person to lead a normal life.