Skip to main content.
Skip subnavigation.

Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Program

The Summa Health Heart and Vascular Institute’s LVAD Program offers lifesaving mechanical circulatory support to patients suffering from end-stage heart failure.

LVAD procedures take place at the Summa Health System – Akron Campus. Our multidisciplinary team of heart failure cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, nurse practitioners, LVAD coordinator(s), pharmacists, dieticians, social workers, financial coordinators, physical therapists and palliative care specialists work together to provide personalized care before, during, and after surgery. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the LVAD team monitors patient progress daily to ensure that you are safely taking medications and making lifestyle changes designed to improve your overall health.

The LVAD itself is an electric-powered pump that is implanted within your chest during surgery. Its purpose is to help your heart work better and improve the flow of blood, oxygen, and vital nutrients throughout your body. 


Reasons for Needing the LVAD

Our providers may recommend an LVAD to improve the quality of life for patients with heart failure who are waiting or ineligible for a heart transplant. The LVAD can be used to support the failing heart for one of two reasons, known as “Long-Term Therapy” or “Short-Term Therapy.” 

Short-Term Therapy

  • Sometimes people are so sick they will need a LVAD before we know for sure if they will qualify for a heart transplant.
  • Because the LVAD can take over the failing heart, it allows the patient the opportunity to gain strength and return to an increased level of functioning.
  • It may take months or even years to find a donor heart for transplant.
  • Getting the LVAD does not mean you will get a heart transplant in the future.

Long-Term Therapy

  • The patient is not a heart transplant candidate.
  • The goal of surgery is to improve quality of life.
  • Sometimes people are so sick they need a LVAD, but may never qualify for a heart transplant.

LVAD Eligibility

An evaluation for an LVAD involves a review of medical history, physical examination, many tests, procedures, doctors’ visits and review of your individual case by members of the LVAD team. The goal is to determine if a LVAD is the right treatment for you; if there is any other treatment that can help you; or if you should continue with your current medical therapy. 

LVAD Procedure

The surgery to implant the LVAD is done under general anesthesia in the operating room. During the surgery, a cord connected to the pump comes out of the abdomen and is attached to a small controller that can provide back-up power. The pump requires a constant power source (either with batteries or wall power) to keep it running. The surgery to implant the LVAD is considered open heart surgery and will last 4 to 6 hours.

LVAD procedure and how it works

Post LVAD Surgery

You can expect to be in the hospital for an average of 3 weeks after LVAD surgery. During this time, both you and your caregiver(s) – friends or family that you designate to help you prior to surgery – will be expected to learn how to care for the LVAD equipment, including the sterile dressing change for the “power cord’’ that exits out of the abdomen. 

Upon discharge, you will follow up in the Heart Failure Clinic frequently. Visits will be weekly for the first month after discharge, and then decrease gradually over time. Your local emergency service providers (EMS, Fire Department, etc.) will be notified of your return home to be better able to help you in case of an emergency.

For additional information, contact the Summa Health Advanced Heart Failure Team at 330.375.3211.



Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.