Heart failure is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Treatment of this condition increasingly involves mechanical circulatory support devices. Even with optimal medical therapy and use of simple cardiac devices, heart failure often leads to reduced quality of life and a shortened life span, prompting exploration of more advanced treatment approaches. Left ventricular assist devices constitute an effective alternative to cardiac transplantation. These devices are not without complications, however, and their use requires careful cooperative management by the patient’s cardiology team and primary care provider. Left ventricular assist devices have undergone many technological advancements since they were first introduced, and they will continue to evolve. This article reviews the history of different types of left ventricular assist devices, appropriate patient selection, and common complications in order to increase health professionals’ familiarity with these treatment options.

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