Background: Children with decompensated heart failure are at high risk for arrhythmias, and ventricular assist device placement is becoming a more common treatment strategy. The impact of ventricular assist devices on arrhythmias and how arrhythmias affect the clinical course of this population are not well described.
Methods and results: A single-centre retrospective analysis of children receiving a ventricular assist device between 1998 and 2011 was performed. In all, 45 patients received 56 ventricular assist devices. The median age at initial placement was 13 years (interquartile range 6-15). The median duration of support was 10 days (range 2-260). The aetiology of heart failure included cardiomyopathy, transplant rejection, myocarditis, and congenital heart disease. In all, 32 patients (71%) had an arrhythmia; 19 patients (42%) had an arrhythmia before ventricular assist device and eight patients (18%) developed new arrhythmias on ventricular assist device. Ventricular tachycardia was most common (25/32, 78%). There was no correlation between arrhythmia and risk of death or transplantation (p=0.14). Of the 15 patients who weaned from ventricular assist device, post-ventricular assist device arrhythmias occurred in nine (60%), with five (33%) having their first arrhythmia after weaning. Patients with ventricular dysfunction after ventricular assist device were more likely to have arrhythmias (p<0.02).
Conclusions: Arrhythmias, especially ventricular, are common in children requiring ventricular assist device. They frequently persist for those able to wean from ventricular assist device.
Keywords: heart failure.