For healthy living with your LVAD, you’ll need to make sure that:
- Your equipment is working properly
- You have sufficient power sources at all times
- Your driveline exit site is clean and dry
- You’re following a healthy diet
- You’re exercising regularly, as you’re able to tolerate it
- You’re taking your medications and supplements as directed by your doctor.
Your LVAD team will give you detailed instructions on what you need to do on a daily basis for your specific device and medical condition. They will also most likely give you a chart (sometimes called a “flowsheet”) customized for your specific device, to fill out daily.
Flowsheets make it easy to keep track of your weight, medications, device settings (such as pump speed, power, etc.) and other daily maintenance items. Sample flowsheets are included at the bottom of the page (they vary slightly based on manufacturer). It is a sample only; use the flowsheet provided by your LVAD team.
General Daily Checklist
Again, your LVAD team will have specific instructions, but these are some general guidelines for day-to-day maintenance with your LVAD.
- Check your driveline and exit site.
- Make sure your driveline is not twisted or kinked, and is secured close to your body.
- Check the driveline regularly for signs of damage (cuts, holes, tears). If you see any damage, let your LVAD team know immediately. Do not try to repair it yourself.
- Change your exit site dressing as instructed by your LVAD Team. When examining the exit site, make sure it’s clean and dry.
- Notify your LVAD Team immediately if you see any signs of injury, trauma or infection. Signs of infection may include redness, drainage, tenderness/pain, fevers and/or shaking chills. Read more about driveline management.
- Monitor your device’s settings, alarms and power sources.
- Follow the device self-check instructions your LVAD team has given you or as explained in your device patient handbook.
- Note device settings and numbers on your flowsheet if you have one.
- Document any unusual alarms and the circumstances around them (such as what your activity was at the time of the alarm, any symptoms you had at the time of the alarm, etc). Remember to bring this information with you to your clinic visits to share with your LVAD team.
- If your controller or other components are dirty, clean them carefully with a damp cloth.
- Be careful not to splash liquids on your equipment and do not submerge them in water. Most equipment display screens (such as on bedside monitors or controllers, depending upon your device) should only be cleaned with a dry, soft cloth.
- Consult your device manual or handbook for additional details.
- Take your medications as directed. It’s very important to take your medications and supplements according to your doctor’s instructions, at the same times each day. Visit the medications section of this site for information on commonly prescribed medications for LVAD patients, plus a chart you can print out and use to help keep track of your medications.
- Check your weight. Try to weigh yourself around the same time every day, as your weight can fluctuate throughout the day. The ideal time is when you first wake up and get out of bed. If possible, zero your scale before stepping on it. Notify your LVAD team with any concerns you have about weight gain or loss.
- Be aware of what and how much you’re eating.
- While you were in the hospital, you may have needed to take dietary supplements because of poor nutrition related to your disease. If your clinicians direct you to keep taking them after you leave the hospital, be sure to continue them as instructed.
- Some of the fluid and dietary restrictions that you had before your LVAD implant may change once you leave the hospital. Work with your LVAD team to make sure you understand any new diet or fluid instructions.
- Contact your LVAD team if you have any significant changes in your ability to tolerate food or beverages (e.g., stomach or gastrointestinal flu, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea). It’s important not to become dehydrated and under-nourished, as this could cause significant problems with your pump or your overall health. Read more about nutrition.