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David H. Prospective Patient

Dementia patient candidate for LVAD?

My husband has end stage heart failure and has the option to have an LVAD. As his caregiver, I am trying to find information on how well a person diagnosed with mild Alzheimers/dementia would be able to function with an LVAD, especially as his cognitive skills declined.  We have talked about what we can only imagine a person with cognitive impairment might experience.  Does anyone have any experience as a patient or caregiver with this issue?

Profile picture for user Blondie

HI David. My father-in-law received his LVAD about two years ago. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with dementia. If he had not gotten it when he did, I dont believe he would be here at this point. His pump works fine. He hasnt had problems with it other than a couple of issues in the very beginning. Having the LVAD hasnt affected his dementia and his dementia hasnt affected having the LVAD.  Regardless of his cognitive condition on a given day, his heart is still beating. We have had two more years with him that would not have been possible without the LVAD. His mind is better some days than others. On his good days, we can have a normal conversation and he is able to enjoy visiting with family. On bad days, he gets really confused and there are times that he gets frustrated about having to wear his controller and batteries, etc. (I cant blame him for that. It would bug me too having to always have something hanging around my neck)He also has times he does not want his dressing changed. That is a huge priority. Regular sterile dressing changes prevent infection in the drive line  which can be serious if not deadly.  We have always been able to deal with that and eventually get his mind focused on something else. The worry now that my mother-in-law has is what happens if the pump messes up or if his LDH goes way up indicating a blood clot in the pump. We have found that doctors normally wont use anesthesia or do surgery on a dementia patient. For now, though, things are pretty good. The only hard times at this point are due to the dementia, not the LVAD.