Living with a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

Technology that performs the tasks of a defective heart can provide cardiac patients with restored vigor, enhanced mobility and the best gift of all – time. The technology, called a ventricular assist device (VAD), extends the lives of patients who await a heart transplant or are ineligible to receive one.

Powered by batteries or electricity, the VAD is a surgically implanted mechanical device that helps pump blood from the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) to the rest of the body. The pump is attached to lines that come out of the patient’s body. The lines connect to a battery pack and control panel typically worn on a vest or belt.

Besides saving lives, VADs also enhance the quality of the patients’ lives. Patients often report the increased blood flow resulting from the VAD energizes them. As a result, they are able to enjoy activities that had been lost to them.

Chasing children in a game of tag, walking the dog, tending a beloved garden and playing sports, are just a few of the activities patients can enjoy. Before partaking in favored activities, however, patients must be ready.

Good Shepherd Prepares VAD Patients to Return Home
Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital plays an important role in helping patients recover following VAD surgery and teaching them how to maintain the device.

VAD patients have complex medical needs requiring close monitoring of their blood pressure and cardiac and fluid status. Usually, they are weak due to long periods of inactivity resulting from their illness and prolonged hospital stays. They are also at risk for developing blood clots or stroke so we vigilantly watch for complications.

We provide post-operative patients with:

  • Medical supervision in a unit staffed by professionals experienced in cardiac care
  • Nursing care
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Education regarding the device

Good Shepherd nurses and therapists have had extensive VAD training and are adept at teaching patients about:

  • The VAD hardware
  • The various alarms and how to respond to them
  • Changing the device’s battery and connecting to a power source
  • Mobility issues with the VAD
  • Activity precautions
  • Care of the lines leading in and out of the body

It is such a joy to help VAD patients with their recovery, because they are so eager to learn and grateful to have a better quality of life.

If you or a loved one requires VAD surgery, contact a Good Shepherd admissions representative to learn more about your post-operative recovery options. Call 1-888-44-REHAB or contact us.

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