Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)

If you have advanced heart failure that’s getting worse, a ventricular assist device, or mechanical heart pump, may be able to help. The most frequently used is the left ventricular assist device (LVAD).

While you’re waiting for a heart transplant, an LVAD can support your heart temporarily. If you’re not a candidate for a transplant, an LVAD can be a long-term solution to improve your quality of life and help you live longer.

The University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center’s LVAD program is the largest and most comprehensive in the state. Our team of specialists includes experts in LVAD and other artificial heart pumps. No matter what’s causing your heart failure, our team works with you to find a solution.

Our outcomes beat the national average. Through September 2019, more than 89% of LVAD recipients were still living with their devices or had undergone a heart transplant one year later. Nationally, the percentage is below 82%.

Our approach to LVAD

The UI Heart and Vascular Center team uses the HeartMate 3 LVAD, one of the most advanced devices available. During its clinical trials, the HeartMate 3 had an extremely high two-year survival rate and a very low rate of complications.

Making sure LVAD is right for you

Our team will evaluate you thoroughly to make sure you’re healthy enough for LVAD implantation surgery.

The team includes cardiologists, heart surgeons, social workers, physical therapists, and other specialists.

You’ll have several tests, which might include:

You will also need to have a number of other health exams, such as a colonoscopy, mammogram, and dental exam.

Once all of your tests and exams are complete, the team meets to determine whether an LVAD is the best option for you.

A team of experts, focused on you

LVAD surgery is a major procedure that has a big impact on your life. The UI Health Care team has decades of experience implanting LVADs and helping people adjust to living with them.

Your care team will include:

One point of contact, plus 24/7 support

Our LVAD coordinator will be your contact person for scheduling appointments, coordinating visits, and answering questions. They’ll walk you through every step of the process from pre-surgery to recovery at home. You can call anytime, day or night, to speak to your coordinator or another team member if you have questions or concerns.

Who can benefit from an LVAD?

An LVAD can be used as a temporary treatment or as a permanent solution.

  • Bridge to recovery: If your heart failure has the potential to be reversed, a LVAD can be a temporary help. It gives your heart a chance to heal, and it can be removed once your heart is strong enough to pump blood by itself.
  • Bridge to transplant: If you’re waiting for a heart transplant, an LVAD can take over for your heart while you wait.
  • Destination therapy: If you’re not a candidate for a heart transplant because of your age or other medical conditions, your LVAD is permanently implanted. You can live for many years with a destination therapy LVAD.

Support before and after LVAD

If you’re considering getting an LVAD, we’ll connect you with someone who has had the surgery. You’ll be able to talk with them privately about the procedure, recovery, and what it’s like to live with a LVAD.

You’re also invited to attend the UI Health Care LVAD support group. The group meets quarterly and welcomes people who are considering getting an LVAD as well as those who already have a device.

For information about upcoming meetings, email stephanie-rauckhorst@uiowa.edu or call 1-319-384-9308.

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Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval

award sealOur LVAD program has earned the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval. This means that we meet rigorous performance standards and deliver high-quality, safe care.

Care Team

LVAD Coordinators

  • Denicia Cole
  • Jennifer Franzwa
  • Carol Johnson