Keeping a Steady Heartbeat -- with Mechanical Help
Feb. 19, 2012
Heart pumps are mechanical devices that can keep people with advanced heart failure alive while they wait for a heart transplant.
The devices are getting better. The left ventricular assist device, or LVAD system, may one day be smaller and completely implantable, making it a game changer, experts say, for advanced heart failure treatment.
The total artificial heart, a different device, is also getting streamlined. A version available now allows patients to go home while they wait for a heart transplant.
We talked to patients with both types and to doctors about the future of heart pump technology.
Tony Williams, 42, is near the top of the list for a donor heart. He was diagnosed six years ago.
His disease was manageable at first, but he said in "the last year, things went downhill." Williams, who lives in Henrico County, is a veteran and father of three. Heart disease runs in his family, he said, naming his father, brother and a late uncle as also affected.
In July, Williams had a total artificial heart implanted at VCU Medical Center's Pauley Heart Center... read more