MURRAY, Utah (Good Things Utah) – One of the most successful artificial heart and mechanical circulatory support programs in the nation is in Utah and is celebrating a major medical milestone this month.

The Intermountain Health Artificial Heart Program at Intermountain Medical Center, which began implanting live-saving artificial heart devices in patients at Intermountain LDS Hospital in 1993, is celebrating 30 years of saving and enhancing lives this month using left ventricular assist devices or LVADs.

The Intermountain Health Artificial Heart Program at Intermountain Medical Center was the first program to implant an LVAD in Utah 30 years ago. This week, the Intermountain Health Artificial Heart team successfully implanted its 463rd LVAD heart pump.

This is a major medical milestone for the Intermountain Health program at Intermountain Medical Center that has one of the best outcomes of any center in the country.
A left ventricular assist device or LVAD is a pump that is implanted in patients who have reached end-stage heart failure. Cardiothoracic surgeons implant the LVAD, a battery-operated, mechanical pump, which then helps the patient’s left ventricle – the main pumping chamber of the heart – pump blood to the rest of the body.
LVADs can be used as as a bridge-to-transplant therapy, as well as permanent destination therapy.

Bridge-to-transplant therapy is a life-saving therapy for patients awaiting a heart transplant. Patients use the LVAD until a human heart becomes available for transplantation. In some cases, the LVAD is able to restore the failing heart, eliminating the need for a transplant.

Destination therapy is for those patients who are not candidates for heart transplants. In this case, patients can receive long-term treatment using an LVAD, which can prolong and improve patients’ lives.

The Intermountain Artificial Heart and LVAD multidisciplinary care team consists of cardiothoracic surgeons, heart failure cardiologists, critical care physicians, palliative care physicians, anesthesiologists, nurses, advanced practice providers, social workers, pharmacists, dieticians, LVAD coordinators, biomedical research associates, data abstractors, transplant coordinators, transplant assistants, medical assistants, schedulers, and many others across multiple departments.

Currently, there are 25 patients in the Intermountain Health Artificial Heart Program at Intermountain Medical Center who are on LVADs who have been on the heart pump devices from anywhere between four days to just over eight years.

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Sponsored by Intermountain Health.