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LVAD Surgery: Bridge to Transplant

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LVAD Surgery: Bridge to Transplant

Cardiac Surgery | by Dr. Manoj Kumar Daga | Published on 26/08/2021

Heart failure is a serious condition marked by the inefficiency of the heart muscles to pump blood to different parts of the body. Also referred to as congestive heart failure, the condition can prove to be life-threatening if not addressed immediately. Such patients are often recommended to undergo a heart transplant, a surgical procedure that involves the replacement of a diseased or non-functional part of the patient’s heart with a healthy heart taken from a deceased donor. The procedure is offered at BM Birla heart hospital in Kolkata.


A heart transplant is the last resort of treatment when other treatment options fail to work. However, due to the unavailability of the donor's heart, there might be a need to postpone the surgery. During this gap, the patients need a little assistance to keep their hearts beating. This calls for the need for LVAD, or left ventricular assist device. It is a mechanical pump that is surgically implanted in a person’s chest cavity so as to assist the heart in pumping blood efficiently. Though LVADs may also be recommended as destination therapy, these usually serve as a ‘bridge to transplant’, i.e. to keep your heart functioning until you find a donor. You can find some of the best doctors specializing in LVAD surgery in Kolkata. Unlike a heart transplant, LVAD does not replace the diseased heart, rather it just helps it to function normally. LVADs have proved to be a boon for all those patients who are waiting for a heart transplant. 


LVAD may be used as destination therapy in the following cases:

  • When the patient is not healthy enough to undergo the transplant, as in the case of the elderly above 65. The sole aim of the procedure, here, is to add some quality years to the patient’s life. 
  • If there is a possibility of reversing the damage or if your heart failure is temporary. 


Living with LVAD

Living with LVAD calls for the need for some changes as you have to adapt to a new way of life. You will have to make many adjustments and adhere to new lifestyle modifications to get used to this new normal. Thanks to ongoing innovations and advancements, LVADs are getting smaller and better with smaller external components and weightless batteries. Adapting to new changes may seem a bit difficult at first but inculcating these in your day-to-day life will help to develop a habit. 

  • Exercising – Indulging in physical activities is always beneficial for you, unless your doctors say otherwise, which not so surprisingly, is very rare. While exercising is good for your heart, it is also important to understand that you should not push yourself beyond certain limits. Start slowly and increase your pace gradually. Refrain from indulging in rigorous activities as these can put unnecessary pressure on your heart. 

  • Traveling – There are as such no restrictions on traveling with LVAD, however, you will need to get yourself evaluated before planning your trip. There are a few things that you need to take care of. Notify the airport authorities about the device and that you need to carry the equipment along with you. If possible, always carry your reports on your mobile in digital form. Don’t forget to carry extra packs of batteries.

  • Blood thinners – Patients with LVAD need to take blood thinners as long as they have the device. You will be required to go for regular blood work initially to make sure that your blood is as thin as it should be. This help to bring down the risks of clot formation. Your medical team will elaborate on the same in detail before you are discharged from the hospital.