UCI Health first in Orange County to offer Left Ventricular Assist Device for patients with end-stage heart failure

Lifesaving procedure complements leading cardiac care at UCI Health

April 24, 2020

UCI Health is the first health system in Orange County to offer Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) for patients diagnosed with end-stage heart failure.

LVAD is a life-saving treatment for patients with end-stage heart failure who are awaiting heart transplants or those who are not candidates for heart transplant. In some cases, the device may be able to help restore a failing heart through rest, eliminating the need for a transplant.

Cardiothoracic surgeons Fabio Sagebin, MD, and Jack Sun, MD, performed the first procedure this week. Sun is chief of cardiothoracic surgery for UCI Health and Sagebin is surgical director for the advanced heart failure program.

“This is a remarkable advance in cardiac care for patients who can now receive this life saving therapy right here in Orange County" said Sagebin. “Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by end-stage heart failure and access to LVAD prolongs and significantly improves their quality of life.”

The device is placed in the chest and attaches directly to the heart. It is capable of, effectively, taking over the function of the heart's main pumping chamber. It is powered by two larger batteries attached to a cable that is tunneled through the skin around the patient’s abdomen from the chest, allowing the patient to be mobile for up to 20 hours on a single charge.

“Our goal is to get people back to normal life. If you love to golf, we want you golfing, if you love tennis, we want you back out on the court,” said Sagebin.

Current portable LVADs are durable and last many years, said Sun. These potentially will allow patients to be discharged while awaiting a transplant or those with end stage heart failure to have a normal quality of life for years after the procedure.

UCI Health is commtted to providing Orange County with advanced cardiac care. In October, UCI Health experts performed Orange County’s first extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) procedure for an adult, saving the life of a 31-year old Orange County woman when her lungs began to fail. ECMO is a portable life-support system used for severe cases of heart and lung failure.

 “With the addition of LVAD surgery, ECMO and an advanced cardiac circulatory support team led by heart failure expert Dr. Dawn Lombardo, the UCI Health cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery programs now offer Orange County residents a range of cardiac care not available anywhere else,” said Pranav Patel, MD, chief of cardiology for UCI Health. “This will improve survival rates and enhance the lives of people in this region who are waiting for a heart transplant.”

In each of the last four years, the program has received the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines – Heart Failure Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The recognition signifies that UCI Health has achieved the goal of treating heart failure patients according to prevention guidelines recommended by the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology.

The heart specialists at the UCI Health Cardiovascular Center are leaders in Orange County and the region at diagnosing and treating patients with complex heart conditions and diseases. For more information, visit UCI Health cardiology services or call 714-456-6699.

In the U.S. more than 6.5 million people are affected by heart failure; it accounts for 1 in 8 deaths, according to the Centers for Control and Disease Prevention (CDC).

UCI Health comprises the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 417-bed acute care hospital provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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