Dr. Craig Smith - What are the Risks Associated with LVADs?

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The risks associated with ventricular assist devices and all forms of mechanical assistance, have primarily to do with the interaction between blood and artificial surfaces. So in the past, stroke was probably the major and most concerning risk because a clot forming as blood passed over the artificial surfaces, and artificial device.

That part of it has became much better controlled with improvements in the surfaces themselves, and improvement in the understanding of what medicines need to be used to minimize clot formation, but these are still artificial devices and we're learning new issues that interfere with elements in the blood, so the latest generation of pumps and assist devices is getting very wide usage.

Instead of being a pump like a push or play to physically move blood around it's a rotating propeller you could think of it, that actual or flow pump very much like a propeller. These have a whole new set of more subtle but very important coagulation abnormalities that have to do with the impact of that propeller on elements in the blood.

So, there's always something and we will keep minimizing the risk as we learn more about, but here are always issues any time you circulate blood through artificial surfaces.