A ventricular assist device, or VAD, is a mechanical pump used to support heart function and blood flow in people with weak or failing hearts. The device is implanted in the body and pumps blood from the heart's lower chambers to the rest of the body. A VAD can be used to temporarily help your heart or as a permanent support.

By relieving the heart's workload, a VAD can prolong life and improve symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness. Patients may be able to exercise and return to work. In some patients, the VAD allows the heart to recover. These patients may eventually be able to have the VAD removed and avoid a heart transplant.