Valley Heart & Vascular Institute - Mechanical Support

Mechanical Support

The rare situation in which the heart’s pumping ability has become so acutely compromised that it cannot sustain normal body functions is called ‘cardiogenic shock.’ This can occur as a consequence of heart attack, valvular failure, viral infection, and rarely, after open heart surgery.

Valley Hospital is well-equipped to handle such a dire situation. When medicines or other support strategies fail, we have a range of ‘ventricular assist devices’ (VADs) that can take over some or all of the pumping capacity of the heart.

One device, called Impella, is placed percutaneously through the groin using fluoroscopic and TEE guidance. This device is only 5mm in diameter yet can generate 2.5 liters/minute of blood flow (approximately 50% of the normal cardiac output). Impella is also used pre-emptively in the cath lab for high-risk stenting procedures.

Valley has also used Abiomed ‘Ventricles’, capable of supporting either or both the right and left ventricle, with full flow capabilities, in excess of 5 liters/minute. Such mechanical support has been used to allow the patient’s own heart muscle to recover, or as a bridge to heart transplantation when necessary.

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