For some patients, the greatest hope for continued life is a heart transplant.
What is mechanical circulatory support?
Mechanical circulatory support, or “MCS,” refers to devices that help your heart function and can serve to enhance heart recovery. Several types of devices are available:
- VAD (ventricular assist devices): If you are waiting for a heart transplant, you may require a VAD, or “left ventricular assist device,” which takes over the functions normally performed by the left ventricle. This lower heart chamber delivers oxygen-rich blood to the body. The device can be implanted to take over this function while waiting for a transplant or if you are not a candidate for a heart transplant. Some patients are too ill to wait for a donor heart without great risk. The VAD implant allows the heart to rest and helps restore the body’s strength before undergoing transplant surgery.
- Temporary total artificial heart (TAH): This device may be needed for people who are suffering end-stage heart failure. A TAH temporarily performs the function of both heart ventricles.
- ECMO: This advanced system takes over the function of the lungs and heart exterior to the body.
- Intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP): A computer-controlled device that inflates and deflates to help the heart pump blood to the rest of the body.