Mechanical Circulatory Support

If you have severe heart failure, you may need mechanical circulatory support to help your heart function. The Heart & Vascular Center at MUSC Health offers the most advanced heart support options available.

Ventricular assist devices (VADs) can support a weakened heart while you wait for a heart transplant. This approach is known as a bridge to transplant.

VADs also serve as long-term treatment options for people with heart failure who are unable to get, or do not want, a heart transplant. This approach is known as destination therapy.

Mechanical Circulatory Support at the Heart & Vascular Center: Why Choose Us?

When you come to MUSC Health for mechanical circulatory support you benefit from:

  • Depth of experience: MUSC Health was the first in South Carolina to offer VADs for heart failure patients. Our team has more experience treating patients with VADs than any other center in the state.
  • Comprehensive treatment options: At the Heart & Vascular Center, you have access to an unparalleled number of heart failure treatment options, including VADs, heart valve surgery and heart transplants. Learn more about our heart failure treatments.
  • The latest technology: Thanks to our doctors’ involvement in clinical trials, we are the only center in South Carolina that has the newest generation of support devices, such as the HeartMate 3 left ventricular assist system (LVAS). We offer the latest technology in VADs and other circulatory support devices.
  • Continuum of care: If you need a VAD as a bridge to transplant, you can receive all of your heart care – from heart support to transplant – in one convenient location. We are the only medical center in South Carolina performing transplants. Learn more about heart transplants at MUSC Health.
  • Teamwork: Our heart failure specialists work together to develop a treatment plan that takes into account your unique health needs. When needed, these doctors work directly with your heart transplant team to ensure seamless care. Meet our team.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation: We are among a select few medical centers in South Carolina with a cardiac rehab program for people with heart support devices like VADs. Our team works with other cardiac rehab specialists throughout the state so that you can receive care closer to home.

Bridge to Transplant Options

Temporary support devices can serve as a “bridge to transplant” as you wait for a donor heart to become available. Bridge to transplant options at the Heart & Vascular Center include:

  • Ventricular assist devices (VADs): Our doctors surgically implant mechanical pumps to help your heart circulate blood. A VAD enables you to go about daily life while waiting for a heart transplant.
  • Percutaneous ventricular assist devices (pVAD): This external, continuous flow pump provides short-term, in-hospital support for up to 14 days.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): This hospital-based machine supports your heart and lungs by pumping and oxygenating blood outside of your body.
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump: At the hospital, a computer console regulates a balloon device that continually inflates and deflates to help your heart pump blood.

Heart Destination Therapy

Sometimes, health complications such as diabetes or excess weight make transplantation too risky. Other times, some people may choose not to undergo a transplant.

If a transplant isn’t an option, you may be a candidate for long-term destination therapy with a VAD. Our doctors surgically implant a VAD to help circulate blood throughout your body. When needed, our surgeons replace old devices with newer ones.