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Published on February 28, 2012

For Heart Failure Patients with Few Options

Abington Memorial Hospital Announces Ventricular Assist Device Program

Abington, PA (February 28, 2012)—The Pilla Heart Center at Abington Memorial Hospital is now offering ventricular assist device (VAD) therapy for patients with end-stage heart failure. The VAD, also referred to as a mechanical assist device, is recommended when the heart fails to respond to other interventions such as medication and lifestyle changes. Abington is one of only a few hospitals in the Delaware Valley making VADs available to heart failure patients.

A VAD is a heart pump that is attached to the heart and takes over the heart’s pumping function so as to improve blood flow and organ function, ultimately giving the patient the ability to become stronger and function better. The goal of VAD therapy is for the patient to return to normal activities, decrease their hospitalizations and improve their physical condition overall. 

VAD therapy can be used to support patients with end-stage heart failure in need of heart transplantation (termed bridge-to-transplant) or for permanent therapy in patients not eligible for transplantation (termed destination therapy). The VAD is the device that supports former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The VAD is implanted in a surgical procedure whereby the cardiac surgeon attaches the device’s inflow portion to the left ventricle (left side of the heart). Rohinton Morris, M.D., chief, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Abington Memorial Hospital, oversees the VAD program. “The outflow portion is attached to the aorta and acts as a surrogate pump to push the blood out to replenish the body’s systems.  A wire leads through a small hole in the abdomen and is connected to a controller on the outside of the body,” he explains. The device has two power sources—one portable and one similar to the hard drive of a computer. The controller monitors the pump’s activity at all times.

“Many patients successfully treated with VAD therapy return to work, travel and other activities they once had to abandon due to their heart failure symptoms,” said Morris, “often with little or no limitations.” Patients who are post surgery are followed by a team of advanced heart failure specialists in Abington’s heart failure clinic.

For more information about the VAD program, please call 215-481-4200.

About the Heart Failure Program

The specialists in the Pilla Heart Center’s Comprehensive Heart Failure Program focus on interventions to slow heart failure disease progression – or even reverse it. Our program has been awarded disease-specific certification in advanced heart failure by the Joint Commission. The program team works in collaboration with cardiologists and primary care providers with the goal to improve and maintain heart function, reduce hospital stays and ensure a continuum of care.

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