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Darlene A. Family Member

Lvad at 80

My dad is a possible Lvad pt at just shy of 80 anyone else have experience with it at this age would love to hear your experience. It seems overwhelming 

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Allison B.

Hi Darlene,

My father had an LVAD at 67 and encountered many struggles post op and during his recovery process. Please know that the LVAD is not a simple fix and poses many risks, including the surgery itself, and the after care that he will need. I would strongly encourage you to do extensive research and reach out to LVAD patients if you have the time and ability to do so. I pray for you and your father whichever decision he chooses to make. :) 

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lucy b.

Hi, my mom was 75 when she received her LVAD, she had cardiac myopathy and was so sick. She did so good.  She lived for 8 years with the Heartmate 2.  I took care of her.  I did the incision, and all her appointments for the follow ups.  She did good.  It is overwhelming at first and than it all becomes second nature.   Good Luck!  Lucy

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Sharon S.

My husband received his LVAD August 2019 at 84 years old. At the time he was the oldest recipient at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Without it he was headed for hospice. He had no cardiovascular disease only end stage CHF. He has thrived, is very active & suffered no complications. Best wishes for your Dad.

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In reply to by Darlene A.

Dinah H.

Hi Darlene,

My dad is 80 and is currently in the hospital recovering from his LVAD surgery. I totally understand where you are! He had a massive heart attack last March 2021 and has been in heart failure ever since. His ejection fraction is 13-15%. We were told by his initial cardiologist that nothing could be done for him aside from extensive medication. About 6 weeks ago we switched him to a new cardiologist who immediately noticed how healthy and fit the rest of his body was and to our surprise suggested that he do extensive testing to see if he might be an LVAD candidate. At first he wanted nothing to do with it, but reluctantly decided to do the testing. After our family meeting with the LVAD care team and surgeon he decided to go for it. I mean...what have you got to lose right?? Ten days later he was in surgery! It all happened really fast. 

So far so good my dad is 7 days out from surgery and he is recovering really well with no complications so far. His surgeon did the procedure without cutting open his sternum...which I'm sure shortens recovery a bit. In two days he moves to rehab for about 2- 3 weeks. I remember during our family meeting the LVAD team and surgeon said that if you decide to go for it you have to understand and accept the risks but be "all in" in order to have a positive recovery and experience with the device. My dad definitely wasn't at first, but called us from the hospital one morning during his testing and told us that he had an "epiphany" and that his mindset had shifted. I'm so proud of him! I've been prepping to lose him for the past year and now suddenly we will (hopefully if all goes well) have some more quality time with him. 

I understand the fear that you've been feeling completely. My mom, sister and I were terrified!! My dad was in surgery for 8 hours with a few minor complications ( it was only supposed to be 4.) I'm not sure if your dads LVAD team will offer this option, but prior to his surgery we were contacted by two local LVAD recipients my dads age (and their wives or daughters) to tell us their stories so that we would haver an accurate and thorough picture of what having the procedure at 80 might entail. Actually, both had difficult recoveries in different ways...which was scary. However, what resonated with me was that DESPITE this fact both patients and their families said emphatically that they are glad that they did it and would do it all over again in a heart beat (no pun intended :)

Feel free to keep in touch with me if you'd like. I'd be happy to keep you updated on my dads recovery and commiserate with you-- if your dad decides to go for it.

Best,

Dinah

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In reply to by Dinah H.

Darlene A.

The open heart surgery is a point he is struggling with

what hospital if you don’t mind me asking? No one has ever said that not going that route would be an option. 
It is so much to wrap your head around. I keep saying it is a lifestyle choice. 
Thank you so much, glad your dad is doing well 

prayers for a full recovery and adjusting to the new normal 

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In reply to by Darlene A.

Sharon S.

When my husband was approved (at 84) our children & I left the decision totally up to him, his reply was “this is a no brainer, what have I got to lose? With possibly only a few weeks to live without it, it’s worth the chance even if I die in surgery.” A few months after his implant I told my husband how proud I was of him for everything involved in living with an LVAD. His answer was “I’m alive!” I understand your concern about the commitment of being his caregiver after surgery as well as taking care of your Mom. Except for some issues with Arthritis, I am healthy at almost 83 & of course as his wife I don’t have other commitments. Fortunately we also have a son & daughter in-law 10 minutes away who trained as backup care givers, even though we haven’t had to call on them in 2 1/2 years. The 1st couple of months the dressing changes are daily & quite involved, but after that it is every other day & takes me 5-10 minutes. Some people actually can change their own dressings  but my husband is blind in one eye which makes that impossible. We have a phenomenal LVAD team - cardiologists & coordinators who we can page 24/7 for any questions or help. I agree that you should ask to be connected with a couple of LVAD recipients so you can talk in person. We were connected with a couple who have become our dear friends. Also pre Covid the hospital had monthly luncheon gatherings where we all shared comments & questions. We can’t wait until it’s safe for those to start again. I hope some of this was helpful & will be praying for you & your dad.

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In reply to by Sharon S.

Darlene A.

I agree, it has to be his decision! It is just so much information, I am trying to help them process all the information in a non clinical way 

Like my dad with my mom, your husband is lucky to have you, it is a decision for him but a family commitment and we are up to the task of he decides to go that route 

otherwise we help him live his best life while he can. Every day a blessing 

thank you so much for the information, they did speak with a lvad patient but he was much younger when he received it

Thank you!!

 

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In reply to by Dinah H.

Juanita P.

Hello Dinah,

 

Reading your story, well is "wonderful."  All I ask is how did the Dr./and what hospital was this that did not need to open the sternum??  I've had my LVAD 5 years now, and they sure did open the sternum... I think is wonderful; however, that they did not need to.   My amazement is who and where?   Heartmate 3 I suppose?  

 

Thank you,  

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In reply to by Juanita P.

Dinah H.

Hi Juanita,

I'm so sorry for the delayed response, I hadn't looked at this forum recently. My dad (80) received his LVAD through the Minneapolis Heart Institute (MIH in Minnesota) at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. The surgeon was a Dr. Bassam "Sammie" Shukrallah. I think that it's a relatively new surgery, and yes my dad has the HeartMate 3. They cut two incisions, one below the heart and another under the right collar bone. Then they go underneath the rib cage to the heart.

My dad really, REALLY didn't want his sternum cracked. His surgeon said that he'd do his best to do the alternative procedure, but that it'd depend on what things looked like when he went in. Well, my dads heart was stuck to his pericardium...so the surgeon almost decided to change directions and cut the sternum open, but then decided to try to honor my dad's wishes. It took 10 hrs total instead of the estimated 4hrs. 

It definitely made recovery much faster. My dad was out of ICU in 3 days, in the cardiac step down unit for 1 week and then in and out of cardiac rehab in 2 weeks! He's been home now for 2 weeks, started home physio right away, and since day 3 at home he has been able to get in the car (passenger of course) with my sister to run at least one or two errands per day!

The whole experience has happened so fast from the LVAD candidate testing (Feb 3-7th) to surgery (Feb 21st) until now (March 30th) SO crazy!?

Best,

Dinah 

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Anonymous

It all depends on his medical history.  A huge problem with this surgery post op is right ventricular failure.  

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Jack W.

My husband Jack is 86 yrs old and has had his LVAD for 10yrs and 4 months. It is Heartware and still working well.

He has a very positive attitude to life, is active and is an inspiration to many others here in Sydney, Australia. 

All the best Darlene with whatever decision your Dad makes in the future.

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Gwenn R.

Hi Darlene,
Yes, this is a huge decision for your whole family, which is why both the patient and support persons are carefully vetted. It sounds like you are going about this very responsibly. 

My husband just turned 80 on 2/27/22. He received his LVAD (HeartMate 2) 5 years ago and is still going strong!

Our LVAD team where we live is awesome and I made sure to take full advantage of their 24/7 guidance during our first year since everything was new to us and took getting used to before it became our "new normal." I never hesitate to call them with questions or concerns. I also visited our local emergency responders to introduce myself and, when he was able, I took my husband to visit them as well so they would know us if a call came in (we stop by and give them goodies to eat occasionally also!). Whenever there is a storm approaching, I call them as a heads-up in case we lose power for a significant amount of time and might need their assistance with powering batteries, etc. I mention these resources because they are probably available to your family and have helped me have a sense of control as well as support. 

My husband goes to a special gym through his cardiologist's recommendation where he is monitored by trained staff; perhaps your LVAD team has a similar program. Believe me, since getting his LVAD he has never been healthier!

Over time, we have gotten used to our routines, to the occasional alarm (when power goes out), but most of all we are enjoying a quality of life and time together that the LVAD has given us.

Whatever decision your Dad makes, he and your Mom are fortunate to have a loving and involved daughter.

All the best, Gwenn

 

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Juanita P.

Hello Darlene,  reading another individual's response, they are correct the LVAD comes with many complications and a good amount of recovery time.  Please do your research/talk extensively to the Dr's, and make your decision from there.  I don't know what all the circumstances are, etc...I do know all of this is very tough, making the decision to or not to, and living with an LVAD is a life changer for sure at 80 or any other age.  

 

Best of luck to you all.....

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Andreia W.

My grandma unfortunately passed away and I just have a couple of questions she had developed a infections that went unnoticed by her doctors that they were unable to treat it with out antibiotics. I just wanna know how could it go unnoticed my Doctors. I’m really having a hard to getting over this