Going Home with the Heartware (HVAD) 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. Call your Heart Failure doctor or VAD
coordinator for any of these symptoms.
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:
ξ LVAD speed (rpm)
ξ Power (in watts)
ξ Flow (L/min)
3. Look at the driveline connector with cover to make sure it is tight to the controller.
ξ Check the controller connections to the driveline to make sure they are secure. Do
not disconnect either of these.
ξ Look to see that the controller is connected to two power sources (2 batteries or 1
battery & AC adapter).
ξ Look to see that the AC adapter cord is giving power to the controller if used. You
should see the AC power symbol on the controller. You can also make sure that the
connection is tight to the two parts of the AC adapter cord.
ξ Check the batteries for damage.
ξ Check your battery power leads pins to see if there are any bent pins while
maintaining one power lead connected to power at all times. If there are bent pins,
please notify your VAD coordinator.
ξ Clean the outside surfaces of your Heartware system as needed with a damp cloth.
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.
ξ Keep water/moisture or debris from your controller. Do not get your driveline
caught on door handles, drawers or anything that could snag it.
ξ Do not use a tool to tighten any connections.
ξ Be careful around computers and TVs due to static electricity.
ξ Do not clean or try to fix any connections. If there is something wrong, call LVAD
coordinator or heart failure attending on-call.
ξ Do not plug AC adapter cord into an outlet controlled by a wall switch.
ξ Remember: At least one controller port must be connected to a power source
(battery, AC adapter) at all times. Disconnecting both power sources at the same time
will cause the pump to stop!
ξ Do not take baths or go swimming while you have the pump.
ξ You may shower when your doctor says that it is okay. Do not take showers
without using the shower kit.
ξ Avoid any activity with the potential for going under water. This can cause pump
ξ Do not play contact sports while you have 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 doctor/surgeon. Sit in the back seat to prevent
possible trauma to your chest bone from airbags or the dashboard.
ξ Keep the controller next to you while you sleep. When you go to sleep, you need to
be on the AC adapter.
ξ Do not sleep on your stomach.
ξ When you go home, you may feel sore, but you should not have a lot of pain.
ξ Your doctor may order medicine to relieve any pain that you may have. Take these
ξ Call your doctor or LVAD coordinator right away for any new or worsening pain.
You are on a medicine called Coumadin® (warfarin). It is a blood thinner. You need to have
blood tests done at your local lab. The blood test is monitored by the Heart Failure team. The
blood test drawn is called INR (international ration). This keeps track of how thin your blood is.
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 talk about nutritional supplements, carbohydrate
counting and meal planning with your doctor.
Smoking and Tobacco Products
Do not smoke. Avoid places where you are exposed to second hand smoke. Smoking and
second hand smoke cause your arteries to tighten and will decrease your blood flow. This makes
your pump work harder. Smoking and second hand smoke also lowers your ability to fight off
Do not drink alcohol. It can get in the way or interact with certain drugs. Alcohol makes you
lose fluid from your body. It can make you dehydrated. Your LVAD needs enough blood
supply to work best. It is important that your non-alcoholic routine be maintained. Drinking
alcohol may impair your 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 drink lots of water and non-alcoholic drinks. Before going outside in the cold,
avoid kinking or bending your LVAD cables when you put on heavy coats or jackets.
When 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 LVAD. Do not sit in the front
seat in a car, truck, or SUV with airbags. Your doctor will tell you when you can go more than a
few hours away from the hospital. 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
ξ DC adapter cable (car trips)
There are no restrictions for airplane (fixed-wing aircraft), train or bus travel. Please notify your
LVAD coordinator prior to any travel. You need permission from your doctor before you travel
via air or train. Airline or train security needs to be called. You may need documentation
detailing your LVAD and its components. Arrangements need to be made to have the battery
charger and power cables 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 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 loss, you must
ξ AC adapter cable
ξ Battery charger
ξ Backup controller
ξ DC adapter cable (car trips)
Returning To Work
You cannot go back to work until your doctor says you can.
Call the LVAD coordinator during weekday hours of 8-4:30 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 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
Call your heart failure doctor or LVAD coordinator if:
ξ The LVAD flow rate is below the threshold provided to you.
ξ Power higher than threshold provided to you.
ξ You gain or lose more than 2 pounds in 1 day or 5 pounds over 7 days
ξ No bowel movement in 2 consecutive 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 > 101.5°F
ξ Have any LVAD concerns including alarms
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.
An Emergency happens 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 Low flow alarm or pump stoppage
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#7541
In an emergency: Stay calm….
If the Pump is Running:
ξ Check all cable connections.
ξ Reconnect any loose of 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, switch to back-up system
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.
ξ Someone needs to call your Heart Failure doctor to tell us you are coming to
the nearest hospital.