Some patients with severe heart failure don't have improved symptoms with only medication. If their heart continues to deteriorate and becomes unable to pump enough to sustain life, they may be offered a ventricular assist device for destination therapy or as a bridge to transplant.

During bridge to transplant, patients receive a VAD to support their heart while waiting for a donor’s heart. If they are not eligible for transplant, the VAD can provide long-term support for the patient's heart as destination therapy.

VADs are placed for pumping support of the left, right or both chambers of the heart. A VAD is a pump that is surgically connected to the heart in two places to replace the pumping function of the existing heart. These devices are connected to an outside power source, but battery-powered connections are available to allow patients to go home from the hospital.

Each device is different and will depend on the patient's body size and medical condition. The patient must meet certain criteria of their overall health conditions, blood pressure, blood flow and body size to be considered eligible for a VAD.