Ventricular assist device: A mechanical pump that takes over the function of the damaged ventricle of the heart and restores normal blood flow.
Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) were originally developed for patients with heart disease from which they were not expected to recover and who needed mechanical support as a bridge to a heart transplant. LVADs were then used in patients with heart failure who needed ventricular assistance to allow the heart to rest and recover its function. This permitted a meaningfully longer survival and an improved quality of life. LVADs also provide an alternative treatment for patients with advanced heart failure who are not candidates for cardiac transplantation. The devises cost about $60,000 each in 2003 with an additional $150,000 in hospitalization charges.