Ventricular Assist Devices

Ventricular Assist Devices

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Duke’s advanced heart failure team offers the latest advances in ventricular assist device (VAD) support options.  As a certified Joint Commission VAD program, Duke leads and participates in national clinical trials aimed at advancing care for VAD patients in and out of the hospital. Our expertise gives you more options for symptom relief, optimizes your heart function, and improves your quality of life.

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Heart Pumps Improve Heart Function

Smaller, More Portable Pumps
If heart failure has weakened your heart, you may be a candidate for a ventricular assist device (VAD). This mechanical heart pump can support your heart and optimize your blood flow after a heart attack or heart surgery, or while you’re waiting for a heart transplant. It can also be a long-term solution if you have heart failure and are not a candidate for a heart transplant. Today’s smaller, portable, more reliable heart pumps make VADs an option for more people.

We Recommend the Best Approach for You
Our specialists are among the most experienced in the nation and have the knowledge to determine which device is right for you. We were one of the first centers in the Southeast to offer the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) as a long-term therapy to patients who are not eligible for heart transplant, and also as a temporary bridge for patients awaiting a transplant. If you need advanced heart failure treatment, we can evaluate your condition and recommend the best approach for you.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Before Implantation

Comprehensive Evaluation

If you are a candidate for a VAD, you will undergo an in-depth evaluation, conducted by a team of specialists trained to care for people with these mechanical circulatory support devices. A cardiologist, surgeon, and VAD coordinator work together to determine whether a VAD is the best treatment option based on the severity of your condition, and which device is best suited for your needs.

Advanced Imaging

Images may be obtained through cardiac catheterization, which uses catheters guided into the heart and contrast dye to assess pumping capacity. Images may also be acquired via echocardiography, which uses ultrasound to provide images of the moving heart and cardiac MRI. Experienced and trained experts will evaluate your imaging scans and test results to determine if you are a candidate for VAD implantation.

Education for You and Your Caregivers

You are the most important member of your care team, and we are committed to ensuring you have the information you need to understand every aspect of treatment and of life after VAD implantation. Every step of the way, our team of experts is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions and offer hands-on support to you and your designated caregivers.

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Surgery and Recovery

Your surgical team cares for more people with heart failure than any other team in North Carolina and is among the most skilled VAD teams in the nation. That expertise extends to the physicians and support staff who monitor you through recovery. They are specially trained to care for people with ventricular assist devices, can quickly identify and respond to issues that arise, and take a hands-on approach to helping you adjust to life with a VAD.

Support for Your Transition Back Home

We take every precaution to ensure you and your caregivers know how to manage your VAD before you return home. You will be required to spend the last night of your recovery period in a nearby hotel, where you will be monitored by our team and then counseled in best practices as needed before being released. This gives you added confidence as you begin your life with a ventricular assist device.

The Duke VAD team partners with your local care team and emergency services prior to your transition home to ensure safety and consistency in your care.

Long-Term Follow-Up

Your Duke care continues as long as you have your device. You have access to an entire team of heart failure specialists and support staff who are available any time of day to address your concerns. If you live far from the Triangle, we will work closely with your referring physician to provide continuous care. Some local cardiologists also offer follow-up care in partnership with a Duke specialist through a program called Shared Care.

Why Choose Duke

A Team of Experts
Our team -- which includes surgeons, cardiologists, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, case managers, and other health care providers -- is highly trained and experienced in caring for people with VADs. We provide you and your family with individualized education to ensure comfort with this advanced therapy option.

Access to Novel Heart Pumps Sooner
As a Duke patient, you may be eligible to participate in clinical trials evaluating the next generation of smaller, more efficient support devices before they are available elsewhere. 

Leading Expertise
We help set the standard of care nationwide by sharing our expertise with surgeons and medical teams across the U.S. We are a center for FDA-mandated training for VAD. We also continue to advance device technology through our clinical trials and through partnering with other centers to provide training. 

Best Heart Hospital in NC
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked the best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.
Reviewed: 08/30/2018