GI bleeding in patients with continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Gastrointest Endosc. 2014 Sep;80(3):435-446.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.gie.2014.03.040. Epub 2014 Jun 26.


Background: Patients with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are at increased risk of GI bleeding (GIB), primarily from GI angiodysplastic lesions (GIAD).

Objective: To perform meta-analysis of the medical literature in order to determine prevalence and risk factors for GIB.

Design: A literature search was performed to identify studies reporting GIB in LVAD patients. We extracted rates of prevalence, rebleeding, and overall mortality from each study. Pooled event rates and odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.

Setting: Meta-analysis of 17 case-control and cohort studies.

Patients: A total of 1839 LVAD patients of whom 1697 (92%) had continuous-flow LVADs.

Results: The pooled prevalence of GIB in LVAD patients was 23% (95% CI, 20.5%-27%). Subgroup analysis demonstrated that older age (standard difference in means (SDm), 0.69; 95% CI, 0.23-1.15), and elevated creatinine (SDm, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.12-1.18, P = .02) were associated with GIB. Risk factors not associated with GIB included LVAD as destination therapy (OR 1.85; 95% CI, 0.8-4.3), prior history of GIB (OR 2.22; 95% CI, 0.83-5.96), hypertension (OR 1.6; 95% CI, 0.87-2.97), and/or the presence of a continuous-flow LVAD (OR 4.5; 95% CI, 2.1-9.5). Recurrence of GIB occurred in 9.3% (95% CI, 7%-12%), with a GIB mortality rate of 23% (95% CI, 16%-32%). The pooled event rates were 48% (95% CI, 39%-57%) for upper GIB, 22% (95% CI, 16%-31%) for lower GIB, and 15% (95% CI, 8%-25%) for small-bowel bleeding. GIAD in the proximal GI tract were the most common cause of GIB (29%).

Limitations: Lack of information regarding endoscopic therapy and follow-up in most studies.

Conclusions: The prevalence of GIB is increased in patients with continuous-flow LVADs, primarily secondary to the presence of GIAD.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Heart-Assist Devices*
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors