Background: Right heart failure (RHF) is not an infrequent complication of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation. Few studies have examined outcomes for LVAD patients who subsequently develop RHF. This study details one center's experience with RHF in chronic congestive heart failure (CHF) patients.
Methods: One hundred eight patients with chronic CHF (>or=6 months) who underwent HeartMate LVAD implantation were identified during June 1996 to July 2004. Acute heart failure patients requiring LVADs were excluded to eliminate the impact of confounding non-cardiac factors. RHF was defined as the need for a subsequent right ventricular assist device (RVAD), >or=14 days of intravenous inotropes/pulmonary vasodilators, or both. Forty-two (38.9%) RHF patients were identified. Fourteen of these required RVAD insertion. Outcome parameters included early (<or=30-day) mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS), incidence of re-operation for bleeding and acute renal failure, and stroke, bridge-to-transplantation rate and post-transplantation survival rate.
Results: More female patients developed RHF than not (73.3% vs 26.7%, p = 0.003). RHF patients had a higher early mortality rate, greater ICU LOS, higher rates of re-operation for bleeding and renal failure, and lower bridge-to-transplantation rate than non-RHF patients (19.0% vs 6.2%, p = 0.039; 23.8 +/- 23.7 vs 9.6 +/- 7.1 days, p < 0.001; 38.9% vs 18.3%, p = 0.026; 61.0% vs 22.6%, p < 0.001; 65.0% vs 89.9%, p = 0.003; respectively). Fourteen (33.3%) RHF patients required RVAD insertion. Elevated intra-operative central venous pressure (CVP) was found to be an independent predictor of post-LVAD RHF. Overall bridge-to-transplantation rate for the entire study cohort was 73.1%.
Conclusions: The development of RHF after LVAD insertion confers significant morbidity and mortality. Judicious application of inotropes and pulmonary vasodilators and timely RVAD insertion, if necessary, should be maintained. Further investigations evaluating pre- and intra-operative risk factors for the development of RHF are warranted.