Ventricular Assist Device

Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Therapy

Abbott Northwestern Hospital offers ventricular assist device (VAD) therapy as one option for people with advanced heart failure. It may be used as you are evaluated to determine if a heart transplant is an option, are on a transplant list or for life-long (destination) therapy. 

What is it?

A VAD is a mechanical heart pump that is surgically implanted into the chest to help your heart pump blood. It has four main parts:

  • implantable heart pump, placed inside your body
  • driveline (a small tube) that passes through the skin of your abdomen and connects the heart pump to the controller
  • controller (small computer) outside of your body that controls the pump.
  • external power source (batteries or wall power) outside of your body.

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The first step is to have a consultation with the Advanced Heart Failure Team. A doctor will review your history and talk about treatment options. Treatment options could include changes in medicines, other procedures or an evaluation for a VAD.


The next step is an evaluation. The evaluation is a set of tests, procedures and consultations that will help you and the Advanced Heart Failure Team decide if a VAD is a possible treatment for you. The goals of an evaluation are to:

  • see if you are sick enough that a VAD might help you
  • see if it would be safe for you to get a VAD based on your medical history
  • provide you and your support system information about the VAD equipment and lifestyle changes necessary.

The Advanced Heart Failure Team will work with you to find the best treatment options. During this time, you are encouraged to actively participate in your health care plans. If you have questions about tests or procedures, please talk about these with the Advanced Heart Failure Team.