Chaudhry SP, DeVore AD, Vidula H, Nassif M, Mudy K, Birati EY, Gong T, Atluri P, Pham D, Sun B, Bansal A, Najjar SS
Durable implantable left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have been shown to improve survival and quality of life for patients with stage D heart failure. Even though LVADs remain underused overall, the number of patients with heart failure supported with LVADs is steadily increasing. Therefore, general cardiologists will increasingly encounter these patients. In this review, we provide an overview of the field of durable LVADs. We discuss which patients should be referred for consideration of advanced heart failure therapies. We summarize the basic principles of LVAD care, including medical and surgical considerations. We also discuss the common complications associated with LVAD therapy, including bleeding, infections, thrombotic issues, and neurologic events. Our goal is to provide a primer for the general cardiologist in the recognition of patients who could benefit from LVADs and in the principles of managing patients with LVAD. Our hope is to "demystify" LVADs for the general cardiologist.