Common Q & A



The Next Generation LVAD

Q: How big is the HeartAssist5® ventricular assist device (VAD)?
A: The HeartAssist VAD has the smallest pump of all LVADs, weighing 92 grams and measuring 71mm x 30mm. Its small size means it requires less invasive surgery than most other LVADs, which reduces the risk of infection and bleeding and helps speed recovery.

Q: What is the HeartAssist5® VAD?
A: The HeartAssist is a small, mechanical pump that is implanted in the chest and connected to the weakened left ventricle of the heart to provide additional blood flow to the body.

Q: How does the HeartAssist VAD work?
A: The HeartAssist VAD is implanted in the chest, adjacent to the heart. It receives blood from the left ventricle and pumps it around the heart to the aorta, where it is circulated to the body. A small cable attached to the pump exits the body through the abdominal wall and connects to the pump’s external battery and control system, which is usually worn around the waist.

Q: How much blood flow does the HeartAssist VAD pump?
A: The HeartAssist VAD supports extra-large adults to pediatric patients as small as 18 kg. It provides smooth, gentle blood flow from 2-10 liters per minute. In cases where the heart recovers and the patient needs to be weaned from the device, the HeartAssist can provide blood flow down to 2 liters per minute.

Q: When and Where is the HeartAssist5® VAD used?
A: In Europe the HeartAssist is approved for three uses:

  • Bridge to transplant: the temporary use of the HeartAsssist to help rejuvenate the vital organs with additional blood flow and improve the patient’s overall health. This buys the patient more time until a matching donor heart becomes available and helps make them a better transplant candidate.
  • Destination therapy: the permanent use of the HeartAssist in patients who are not eligible for a heart transplant, or who prefer not to undergo transplant surgery. Many patients are able to enjoy additional years of life this way.
  • Bridge to recovery: use of the HeartAssist5® to support the heart and give it time to rest and possibly recover. Heart recovery most often occurs in children who were born with heart problems and a tiny percentage of adults.

Q: What makes the HeartAssist different from other LVADs?
A: The HeartAssist has several features that make it different from other LVADs.

  • FlowAccurate™ Diagnostics: ReliantHeart’s exclusive Flow Probe provides measurement of actual blood flow. Other LVADs rely on estimates by the clinician or software.
  • HeartAssistRemote™: ReliantHeart’s new HeartAttendant® and HeartAssistRemote™ Monitoring System allow medical professionals to remotely monitor the performance of their patients’ LVADs including blood flow, pump speed and power.
  • Optimized design: The design of the new HeartAssist5® has been optimized to reduce damage (shear) to the blood cells, reducing the risk of developing Acquired von Willebrand syndrome (AVWS).

Q: How do medical professionals remotely monitor their HeartAssist  patients?
A: The HeartAssist Conquest Controller sends bursts of stored data to a monitoring center which collects and stores blood flow data. The HeartAttendant® Conquest Controller provides Remote Monitoring  via a secure wireless internet system. Designated clinicians can access this data at any time using a private username and password from most wireless or wired devices. 



Q: Can I leave the hospital after I receive my HeartAssist  VAD?
A: Yes, many HeartAssist  patients are able to leave the hospital after recovering from their LVAD surgery. This will occur if/when your physician has determined that your condition has stabilized and you have learned to care for your device independently.

Q: What kind of rehabilitation program will I undergo?
A: Following surgery, your clinical needs will be addressed by physicians and nurses who are specialized in treating heart failure patients. Additionally, you may be seen by occupational and physical therapists to help you become strong and independent enough to care for yourself and your device. Following discharge from the hospital, you will most likely participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program.

Q: How will I learn about taking care of my device?
A: The LVAD team at the hospital will teach you and your caregiver about the operation, management and care of your system. You will be trained on daily operation, maintenance and emergency procedures related to your LVAD.

Q: What will I be able to do?
A: Because of the increased blood flow, you should be able to perform most of the activities you did prior to surgery with even greater energy. Many patients return to normal everyday activities including shopping, working, doing chores, traveling and attending social gatherings and sporting events. Being able to participate in these kinds of activities will depend on your overall state of health and speed of recovery.

Q: Where can I find more information?
A: Please visit Educational Links.



Q: What is heart failure?
A: Heart failure is a chronic and progressive disease that occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

Q: What lifestyle factors contribute to heart failure?
A: Heart failure often begins as a form of cardiovascular disease. You can help prevent cardiovascular disease by eating a healthy diet, exercising three to five times a week, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking.

Q: How many people have heart failure?
A: Approximately 14 million people in Europe currently suffer from heart failure with more than 3.6 million new cases of heart failure are reported each year.

Q: What are the symptoms of heart failure?
A: A sick heart sickens the body. Symptoms of heart failure include confusion, shortness of breath, persistent coughing or wheezing, increased heart rate/palpitations, swelling of the extremities, lack of appetite, nausea and fatigue.

Q: What treatment options are available for patients with heart failure?
A: Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise in combination with medication can help treat heart failure. However, for most patients who progress to advanced heart failure, a heart transplant, a ventricular assist device (VAD) or a total artificial heart are the only options for prolonged survival.


NEXT ›› Messages From Others