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Vital Signs

Spring 2010
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VAD Offers Alternative to Heart Transplant


The ventricular assist device (VAD) was once seen only as a bridge to transplantation — a way to keep the sickest patient with heart failure alive until a donor became available. But as the technology continues to improve, it is increasingly viewed as an attractive “destination” treatment for patients who are not eligible for transplants, says cardiologist Robb MacLellan, M.D., who runs the UCLA Ventricular Assist Device Program. In some cases, he notes, patients who receive the newest-generation VAD find that their quality of life has improved to the point that they no longer desire a new heart.

“A heart transplant still is the ideal therapy, but there are as many as 10,000–50,000 people in the United States who have late-stage heart failure and are either on the waiting list or ineligible for a transplant,” says Ann Hickey, M.D., UCLA heart transplant cardiologist. “It is great to be able to offer these individuals something so compatible with a normal lifestyle.”

To view a video about VADs, go to:

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