What Is a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)?

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a surgically implanted, battery-operated, mechanical pump that helps the left ventricle (main pumping chamber of the heart) pump blood to the rest of the body.

LVADs are for patients who have reached end stage heart failure. LVADs have traditionally been used as a bridge-to-transplant, allowing patients to live long enough to receive a heart transplant. Members of Stanford's cardiothoracic surgery team have been performing LVAD surgeries for more than 35 years. Stanford researchers developed the first LVAD, the Novocor, leading to the first successful bridge-to-transplant implant in 1984.

For patients who cannot receive a heart transplant, LVAD therapy can also provide long-term treatment for heart failure. This is known as destination therapy. Stanford Hospital offers both bridge-to-transplant and destination LVAD therapy. In fact, Stanford is one of only two destination therapy programs in the Bay Area and one of only seven in California.

A left ventricular assist device is most often used when a patient with heart failure is waiting for heart transplant surgery. In some cases, left ventricular assist devices restore failing hearts, eliminating the need for a transplant. An LVAD can also be used in patients with end stage heart failure who do not qualify for a heart transplant, prolonging life and improving quality of life.

Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) program

Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) therapy has become more promising due to recent data that suggests improved survival and quality of life in patients with end stage heart failure. Our group is expanding the use of this new technology beyond patients who are waiting for transplant ('bridge to transplant') to patients who do not qualify for transplant but have an unacceptable quality of life on medical therapy ('destination therapy'). At Stanford, we have the newest devices available, including the HeartMate II and HeartWare devices, in order to provide the best care for our patients.

Some patients with heart failure feel worse despite the best medical therapy, and require advanced treatments for heart failure. A LVAD is a surgically implanted device that helps the heart pump blood to the rest of the body.

A LVAD increases long-term survival, quality of life, and allows patients with heart failure to return home to an active lifestyle. Learn more by reading the LVAD FAQs.

Why choose Stanford Health Care for implantation of a left ventricular assist device?

Stanford's heart failure and cardiomyopathy clinic has the accumulated wisdom of 30 years of research and clinical experience, and is formulating the latest advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

Stanford researchers were instrumental in the development of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) therapy, leading to the first successful bridge to transplant implant in 1984 at Stanford by Dr. Philip Oyer.

We offer LVAD as both a bridge to heart transplant in patients waiting for a heart, and destination VAD therapy (when transplant is not the best option).

Stanford is one of two destination therapy programs in the Bay Area, with the highest volume in the Bay Area, and is one of seven in California.

Our Clinic

Learn more about the Stanford approach by visiting the Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy Clinic
Call 650-723-5468 to make an appointment