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Discharge Instructions for Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

You had a procedure to insert a ventricular assist device (VAD). This device replaces the pumping action of your heart. Usually, a VAD is inserted as a bridge to a later heart transplant, but doctors have also found that a VAD gives the heart a chance to rest and recover. In some cases, the heart is able to resume some normal activity, which may eliminate the need for a heart transplant. For some people who are not candidates for a heart transplant, the VAD is considered permanent. Here's what you need to know about home care.

Activity

  • Don't lift, pull, or push anything heavier than 10 pounds during the first 6 weeks after your surgery.

  • Shower with care. Your VAD has an air vent and a filter. Keep fluid away from these AT ALL TIMES.

  • Don't swim or play any water sports. No boating, hot tubs, or taking baths.

  • Don't drive.

Special Precautions

  • Your VAD is a very special device. It needs a special team to help you with care. Always know who this team is and how to reach the coordinator. 

  • Keep the following near you at all times:

    • A hand pump (to use if the power supply of your device fails)

    • Hospital's paging number for the VAD coordinator heart transplant coordinator

    • Backup power pack with charged batteries

  • Test your system every day.

  • Make sure your family or someone in your home knows how to change the power supply and care for your device.

  • The power company will need to be notified to place you on a priority list to have your power restored first in case of a power outage. Your VAD coordinator can assist you with this. It should be done prior to your discharge from the hospital.

  • Carry an ID card that identifies your device.

  • Take your temperature every day. Call your doctor or your VAD coordinator if it is above 100°F (37.8°C). 

Other Home Care

  • Change the device filter according to the directions you were given before you left the hospital. If you did not receive directions, ask for them.

  • Take your medications exactly as directed. Don't skip doses.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Ask your doctor for menus and other diet information.

 

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever above 100°F (37.8°C)

  • Signs of infection at your device's exit site (redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth)

  • Device alarm sounds

  • Fatigue that doesn't get better

  • Dizziness that doesn't go away

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Swollen hands, feet, or ankles

 

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