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LVAD and Aortic Repair

written by: angiem1981 • edited by: lrohner • updated: 12/24/2010

Although there is a link between LVAD and aortic repair, you may want to think twice before declining this procedure based on this link alone. Getting the facts and understanding this risk is one of the most important things that the individual can do.

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    What Is It?

    To fully understand the implications and/or link between LVAD and aortic repair, you must first know what LVAD is and how it works. The LVAD, or left ventricular assist device, is a treatment utilized for those with advanced or end-stage heart failure. These devices may be used if you are not a candidate for heart transplant surgery, or more commonly, when a new heart is simply not available. This is a mechanical pump that assists circulation and can improve the quality of life, but can also extend life in some cases.

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    What About the Link Between Aortic Repair and This Device?

    Statistics indicate that patients who have received the LVAD may be at higher risk of developing aortic deficiencies or abnormalities as a result of the device. Damages to the aortic valves that may lead to repair generally occur either during the placement of the pump, or shortly after. However, many of these patients may have already had a pre existing aortic dysfunction prior to the placement of the LVAD. In addition to this, the aortic valves may not be the only valves affected, just more commonly noted.

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    What if the Patient Has Already Had a Valve Repair?

    According published research studies, a pre-existing valve repair or replacement does not make placement of the LVAD a medical issue in the majority of cases. As a matter of fact, there are some protocols in place to help deal with these particular concerns. For example, the use of anticoagulation medications may be common among these patients. You should keep in mind though; these practices can differ by the surgeon, the type of repair that was performed and the overall health of the patient. The risks of complications or undesirable outcomes are generally no higher for this group of individuals.

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    Other Considerations

    When a physician suggests placement of the LVAD, it is generally because the doctor believes that the medical benefits of this mechanical pump will outweigh any risks that may be present. As a matter of fact, this may be the only alternative for some individuals. LVAD and aortic repair do share a correlation; however, and patients suffering from heart valve abnormalities are not necessarily poor candidates. This implanted ventricular assist device can make a significant difference in the signs and symptoms the patient experiences as a result of heart disease and heaert failure and can help improve the quality of life drastically.

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    Bibliography

    Aortic Valve Pathophysiology During Left Ventricular Assist Device Support. Pub Med. 31, July 2010. Viewed 16, December 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20674397

    LVAD’s A New Era in Mechanical Support for the Failing Heart. UT Southwestern. 2009. Viewed 16, December 2010. http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/UTSW/staticFile/org/Health_Care_Professionals/HeartBeat_Summer09.pdf

    Management of Prosthetic Valves During Ventricular Assist Device Implantation. Pub Med. 25, September 2010. Viewed 16, December 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20678108