I was asked the question. Can I do CPR on someone who has a VAD or Ventricular Assist Device?
In short, no.
But I didn’t initially know the answer to this question. I posed the question to the collective brain of one of the online instructor groups I belong to. Online groups and forums are awesome and I truly appreciate the sharing of information from other instructors.
A VAD or LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) is a mechanical pump that helps the heart move blood from the left ventricle to the aorta. It is not a mechanical heart, but rather assists the heart in pumping from that one ventricle. Part of the device is implanted inside the patient’s body and part of it is external. Here’s a great link that helps explain it a bit better than I can: http://www.mylvad.com/content/what-lvad-how-does-it-work.
Patients with an LVAD may appear pulseless, but CPR should not be initiated as chest compressions may dislodge the internal part of the device that is pumping blood.
Another great resource for EMS and troubleshooting problems with a LVAD can be found in the My LVAD and MCSO 2014 EMS Guide.
If you have a family member with a LVAD their cardiologist should review with them and their immediate family what to do if the patient appears unresponsive.