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Keywords

bridge to transplant, cardiac transplant, cardiomyopathy, destination therapy, heart failure, left ventricular assist device, left ventricular assist system, ventricular assist device

 

Authors

  1. Stahovich, Marcia RN, CCRN
  2. Chillcott, Suzanne BSN, RN
  3. Dembitsky, Walter P. MD

Abstract

Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are becoming more commonplace in the hospital and community settings as the number of patients living with heart failure increases. Patients being discharged after hospitalization for heart failure rose from 399 000 in 1979 to 1 099 000 in 2004, an increase of 175%. Patients with heart failure become severely debilitated finding activities of daily living including eating, bathing, and walking a great effort. Patients with end-stage heart failure are often sent home on inotropic therapies and referred to hospice care. The use of VADs for these patients can dramatically improve both the quality and the length of life. VADs can be broadly categorized as being either continuous flow (fluid dynamic) or pulsatile (volume displacement) and either can be used as short- or long-term support devices. The critical care nurse is in a unique position to educate patients with chronic heart failure on options available to improve their quality of life including VAD therapy. VADs are available for destination therapy for those not meeting transplant criteria, offering a longer quality of life. As centers gain more experience and referrals are made earlier in the disease process, VAD patient care will be more streamlined decreasing length of stay.