Skip to content

PV Card: LVAD Complications


Patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) often cause much anxiety amongst providers in the emergency department. This is understandable with all of the hardware, diminished or absent peripheral pulses at baseline, and potential for complications. To add to the already helpful reviews about LVADs at REBELEM and emDocs, this is a PV card set providing a methodical approach to troubleshooting LVAD complications, including a reproduction of an algorithm for managing the LVAD patient with altered mental status from EMCrit.1–3

[Download PDF] [fusion_content_boxes layout=”icon-with-title” columns=”1″ icon_align=”left” title_size=”” backgroundcolor=”#e0eee0″ icon_circle=”” icon_circle_radius=”” iconcolor=”” circlecolor=”” circlebordercolor=”” circlebordercolorsize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” outercirclebordercolorsize=”” icon_size=”” link_type=”” link_area=”” animation_delay=”” animation_offset=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””] [fusion_content_box title=”EXPERT PEER REVIEW: LVAD Complications” icon=”fa-star” backgroundcolor=”” iconcolor=”#00b092″ circlecolor=”” circlebordercolor=”” circlebordercolorsize=”” outercirclebordercolor=”” outercirclebordercolorsize=”” iconrotate=”” iconspin=”no” image=”” image_width=”35″ image_height=”35″ link=”” linktarget=”_self” linktext=”” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″]

john-greenwood-headshot John Greenwood, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania | Perelman SOM

Overall, a very well written summary for the ED provider faced with the challenge of managing the patient with an LVAD. These patients can be very complex, where the clinician may need to address a range of potential problems that can include hemodynamic complications, coagulopathy & bleeding, arrhythmias, and infection. After you initially assess the patient, the most important step is to task someone to get a hold of the VAD coordinator as they will often be able to guide you through any recent device changes and previous complications. The patient’s family can provide a wealth of information – use them! Knowing the most common complications will help guide your HPI, exam, and interventions so that you are well prepared for the next time a VAD patient presents to your ED.[/fusion_content_box][/fusion_content_boxes]

Thumbnail LVAD image use approved by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Partyka C, Taylor B. Review article: ventricular assist devices in the emergency department. Emerg Med Australas. 2014;26(2):104-112. [PubMed]
Andersen M, Videbaek R, Boesgaard S, Sander K, Hansen P, Gustafsson F. Incidence of ventricular arrhythmias in patients on long-term support with a continuous-flow assist device (HeartMate II). J Heart Lung Transplant. 2009;28(7):733-735. [PubMed]
Greenwood J, Herr D. Mechanical circulatory support. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2014;32(4):851-869. [PubMed]
Nicolas Stadlberger, MD

Nicolas Stadlberger, MD

Emergency Medicine Resident
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Nicolas Stadlberger, MD

Latest posts by Nicolas Stadlberger, MD (see all)