What is a ventricular assist device (VAD)?

A ventricular assist device assists heart circulation and can partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart.

VADs are a treatment for severe heart failure

Heart failure is complex. It often requires a combination of treatments, including:

  • surgery
  • medication
  • lifestyle changes 
  • implanted devices.

Surgical intervention for heart failure includes the implantation of a ventricular assist device (VAD) – which is a kind of artificial heart pump used to treat people with severe heart failure.

How does a VAD work?

Normally, the left ventricle, one of your heart’s four chambers, pumps blood into your aorta (the large artery leaving the heart) and around your body. In the event that someone has severe heart failure, the heart is too weak to pump enough blood around the body.

The VAD helps the failing heart and aims to restore normal blood flow. The VAD is implanted and acts as a blood pump that pumps blood from the main chamber of the heart around the body.

When is a VAD needed?

  • Your heart is diseased and you are waiting for a heart transplant.
  • You have temporary heart failure and you have been recommended to have a VAD until your heart recovers, or when you are recovering from heart surgery.
  • A heart transplant is not an option and a VAD is needed as long-term treatment for heart failure.

Watch our video to find out more:

The following video introduces the VAD service for private patients at Harefield Hospital.

Consultants who can insert VADs

Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Specialist Care is home to a number of specialists who treat private patients in need of a VAD:

Location where VADs are available

Harefield Hospital


RB&HH Specialist Care offers the following services:

  • VAD pre-screening service.
  • VAD implantation and follow up including cardiac rehabilitation.
  • 24-hour on call service for patients who have VAD devices.

Pre-screening diagnostic tests

An extensive pre-screening is performed before the VAD implantation is recommended. This will include:

  • blood tests
  • echocardiogram
  • chest x-rays
  • angiogram (cardiac catheterisation)
  • ECG
  • renal function
  • lung function
  • psychological testing.

Benefits of VAD treatment at Harefield

Harefield Hospital is one of the leaders in VAD technology. Consultants at Harefield have performed the procedure for over 20 years, and they have amongst the highest success rates in the UK.

What sets Harefield Hospital apart from other hospitals is that they provide the VAD implant in a minimally invasive way, using two small incisions (sternum-sparing), rather than a traditional open heart method. This allows for lower rates of infections and faster recovery times.

As we are a specialist heart and lung centre, we have experience treating extremely complex cases. Our expert specialists have an enormous amount of experience.