Going Home with the HeartMate II LVAD
While living at home with your ventricular assist device (VAD), it is vital that you follow these
instructions. You must know and understand the warnings and cautions that go along with
having a VAD. Be sure that you are aware of the guidelines for safe VAD function.
1. Dressing Change
a. Change the driveline exit site dressing at least once a day. Be sure to use the sterile
technique in the attached instruction sheet.
b. Keep the driveline from moving around with tape or an anchoring device discussed
with you in the hospital. This prevents infection.
c. Take a good look at the driveline exit site at least once a day. Do this during the
dressing change. Look for signs of infection.
ξ Drainage (blood or pus)
ξ New drainage where there was not any before
ξ Increased tenderness during dressing change
ξ Foul odor
ξ Increased warmth at the site
ξ Temperature of 100° F
2. Each day, record these on your flowsheet.
c. LVAD speed (rpm)
d. Pulsatility index (PI)
e. Power (watts)
f. Flow (L/min)
3. Perform a system check on the controller while on power module.
ξ Inspect the system controller connections to the driveline to make sure they are secure.
Do not disconnect either of these.
ξ Check both the white and black connections to the power cords for damage.
ξ Look at the latch guard. Make sure it is in the locked position at all times.
ξ Inspect batteries for physical damage. Clean battery terminals and inside contacts of
battery clips with an alcohol swab. Do not use or pour liquids. This prevents build-up.
If there is physical damage, please notify your VAD coordinator.
ξ Remember to rotate and fully charge all batteries.
ξ If you have a problem with a battery, mark it and set it aside. Contact your VAD
coordinator during daytime hours to let them know that you need a new one.
ξ Check your power lead connections during power changeover for any bent pins while
maintaining one power lead connected to power at all times. Notify VAD coordinator
with any bent pins.
ξ Clean the outside surfaces of your HeartMate system as needed with a damp cloth.
Every Six Months
ξ Charge backup battery in backup controller.
You must know and understand the warnings and cautions that go along with having an LVAD.
Be sure that you are familiar with the guidelines for safe LVAD operation.
ξ No MRI
ξ No Chest Compressions
ξ Do not block or kink your driveline. Do not get your driveline caught on door
handles, drawers or anything that could snag it.
ξ Keep water/moisture or debris from your controller.
ξ Do not use a tool to tighten any connections.
ξ Be careful around computers and TV’s due to static electricity.
ξ Do not clean or try to fix any connections on the LVAD. If there is something wrong,
call LVAD coordinator or heart failure attending on call.
ξ Do not plug power module into an outlet controlled by a wall switch.
ξ Remember: At least one system controller cable must be connected to a power source
(battery, power module at all times). Disconnecting both power cables at the same time
will cause the pump to stop!
ξ Do not take baths or go swimming while implanted with the pump.
ξ You may shower once your doctor says that it is okay to do so. Do not take showers
without using the shower kit.
ξ Avoid any activity with the potential for immersion into water. This can cause pump
ξ Do not play contact sports while implanted with the LVAD.
ξ Avoid jumping up and down.
ξ Do not lift more than 10 pounds for at least 8 weeks.
ξ No vacuuming.
ξ No driving until approved by your physician/surgeon. Until then sit in the back seat to
prevent possible trauma to your chest bone from airbags or the dashboard.
ξ Keep the system controller next to you while you sleep. When you go to sleep, you need
to be on the power base unit. The pocket controller will get warm if you cover it with
ξ Do not sleep on your stomach.
ξ When you go home, you should not have a large amount of pain. You may feel sore.
ξ Your doctor may order medicine to relieve any pain that you may have. Take these as
ξ Call your Doctor or LVAD coordinator right away for any new pain or if the pain gets
You will be on a medicine called Coumadin® (Warfarin). It is a blood thinner. You will have to
have blood tests done at your local lab and will be monitored by the Heart Failure team. The
blood test drawn is called INR (international ration which monitors Coumadin®).
ξ Follow your heart healthy diet given to you by your dietician.
ξ Keep sodium intake to 2000mg total for one day.
ξ Keep total fluid intake to 2000ml per day.
ξ If you have diabetes, be sure to discuss nutritional supplements, carbohydrate counting
and meal planning with your doctor.
Smoking and Tobacco Products
Do not smoke. Avoid places where you will be exposed to second hand smoke. Smoking and
second hand smoke cause your arteries to tighten and will decrease blood flow. This will make
your pump work harder. Smoking and second hand smoke also lowers your ability to fight off
Do not drink alcohol. It can hinder or interact with certain drugs. Alcohol is a diuretic. It can
cause you to dehydrate. Your LVAD depends on enough blood supply to work best. It is
important that your non-alcoholic routine be maintained. Drinking alcohol may impair judgment
and ability to react to system alarms.
Avoid being active in very hot or cold temperatures. If you go outdoors, during very hot or
humid weather, be sure to drink lots of water and non-alcoholic drinks. When putting on heavy
coats or jackets, before going outside in the cold, take care to avoid kinking or bending your
Once you are at home, you and your caregiver need to be sure that your surroundings are safe.
Please minimize area rugs or tripping hazards. Please use a mat in the bathtub if used as a
shower to prevent falling if possible. If you have any questions or concerns about your home
environment, call your LVAD coordinator. If you are not comfortable testing your home’s
electrical system, you can hire an electrician to do it for you.
Do not drive or operate heavy machines for as long as you have a VAD. Do not sit in the front
seat in a car, truck, or SUV with airbags. Wear your seatbelt.
When leaving home for a few hours, be sure to take these items with you:
ξ Backup system controller.
ξ Extra batteries and clips.
There are no restrictions for airplane (fixed-wing aircraft), train or bus travel. Notify your VAD
coordinator prior to any travel. You need permission from your doctor before you travel via air
or train. Airline or train security will need to be called. You may need documentation detailing
your LVAD and its components. Arrangements need to be made to have the power module
inspected by hand instead of going through the x-ray machine. Do not go through the security
arch but rather have them use the wand. Your LVAD coordinator or heart failure doctor on call
will give you information about the LVAD center nearest to your destination. That hospital’s
LVAD team may be notified of the dates you will be in the area. You will need to put the
equipment in a suitcase that will fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. Your
LVAD will not interfere with the radar system.
To prevent equipment loss, you must carry:
ξ Power module/monitor/cable
ξ Battery charger
ξ Backup controller
ξ Batteries and battery clips
Returning To Work
You cannot return to work until cleared by your doctor.
Call the LVAD coordinator during weekday hours of 8 am-4:30 pm at the below office numbers
or by calling paging at 608-263-6400 and ask for the VAD coordinator on call any time of day:
Margaret Murray, RN, DNP 608-262-0773
John Blabaum APNP 608-261-0962
Michele Gruenenfelder, MPA-C 608-263-4786
You may also call the Heart Failure attending on call (after hours, weekends, holidays) at
608-263-6400 with any concerns.
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
Call your heart failure attending or VAD coordinator if:
ξ The LVAD flow rate is below the threshold given to you on your daily sheets
ξ PI less than 3 or greater than 8.
ξ Power > 8w.
ξ You gain or lose more than 2 pounds in 1 day or 5 pounds in 7 days
ξ You see any swelling in your ankles or changes in your waistline. This may be
a sign of water retention.
ξ Have any signs of infection at the driveline site or concerns about appearance of
driveline site. Temperature is greater than 101.5°F.
ξ Have any LVAD concerns including alarms or if you need to change the
ξ Have pain at the driveline site or LVAD itself.
ξ Go to the Emergency Room and/or admitted to a hospital.
ξ Have LVAD failure
ξ Call your heart failure Doctor or LVAD coordinator right away if you notice any
changes in how the LVAD feels, work sounds, or if you feel different.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6440
In an emergency: Stay calm….
If the Pump is Running:
ξ Check all cable connections.
ξ Reconnect any loose or disconnected cables.
ξ Call LVAD coordinator, Heart Failure doctor or “911.”
ξ Refer to trouble shooting guide.
If the Pump is Not Running, Call 911 right away.
ξ Refer to trouble shooting guide.
ξ Check connections, change power source.
ξ Switch to back-up system controller with another person.
ξ One family member/friend may need to ride in the ambulance with you to
ξ Make sure that emergency backup supplies are with you for your ride.
ξ Someone needs to call your Heart Failure doctor to alert us you are coming to
the nearest hospital.
An Emergency occurs any time the heart pump cannot pump enough blood. Call 911
for all emergencies. Make sure 911 is available and works in your area before relying
on it. When to call 911:
ξ Loss of power to the pump.
ξ Broken wires.
ξ Damage to the pump motor or system controller.
ξ Health changes affecting your heart.
ξ Red Heart Alarm or pump stoppage
Call 911 with any signs of stroke:
ξ Changes in speech
ξ Numbness or tingling in one extremity only
ξ Weakness or unable to move one side of body
ξ Uneven smile