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Who Needs a Ventricular Assist Device?

You may benefit from a ventricular assist device (VAD) if your heart doesn't work well because of heart disease. Heart disease can prevent your heart from pumping enough blood to your body.

A VAD can help support your heart:

  • During or after surgery, until your heart recovers.
  • While you're waiting for a heart transplant.
  • If you're not eligible for a heart transplant. (A VAD can be a long-term solution to help your heart work better.)

Short-Term Ventricular Assist Devices

A VAD can support heart function and blood flow for a short time before, during, and/or after heart surgery until your heart recovers. Your doctor may recommend a short-term VAD if you have a severe heart condition, such as heart failure, a ventricular arrhythmia, or cardiogenic shock.

You also might use a VAD if you have heart failure and your doctors need more time to plan your treatment.

Long-Term Ventricular Assist Devices

If you have heart failure and are waiting for a heart transplant, your doctor may recommend a VAD. If heart failure medicines aren't working well, a VAD can keep you alive and improve your quality of life while you wait for a donor heart.

If you're not eligible for a heart transplant, a VAD might be a long-term treatment option. It can improve your quality of life and allow you to do many daily activities.

When Are Ventricular Assist Devices Not Recommended?

VADs might not be a treatment option for people who have certain serious health conditions. Examples of these conditions include severe kidney failure, serious brain injuries, severe infections, and other life-threatening conditions.

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Ventricular Assist Device Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Ventricular Assist Device, visit

March 31, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.