Gastrointestinal Bleeding in Mechanical Cardiac Support

Am Surg. 2021 Jan;87(1):142-146. doi: 10.1177/0003134820945265. Epub 2020 Aug 31.


Background: Mechanical cardiac support (MCS) is a lifesaving therapy option in patients with heart failure and other medical disorders. However, there is an associated risk of gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB). The goal of this study was to determine GIB incidence and associated risk factors.

Methods: All patients at one institution from 2009 to 2018 under durable and nondurable support were retrospectively reviewed for GIB during their MCS period. Clinical records were evaluated for patient demographics, GIB characteristics, and interventions. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to compare patient groups.

Results: A total of 427 patients were reviewed, with 111 (25.9%) patients representing 218 episodes of GIB during our study period. The incidence rate from support initiation to GIB was 44.9% by 6 months and 60.6% in 12 months, occurring at a mean of 216.7 days. Higher rates of bleeding were found in patients with hypertension (82% vs 71.5%; P = .03) and diabetes mellitus (62.2% vs 38.3%; P < .0001), as well as pulmonary (48.7% vs 35.4%; P = .014), hepatic (21.6% vs 10.4%; P = .003), and renal disease (48.7% vs 37.3%; P = .037). Endoscopy revealed an upper GI source in 56% (n = 123) of bleeds. The most common etiology of bleeding included angiodysplasia/vascular malformation (35.7%). Therapeutic intervention was performed in 109 (50%) cases, with only 1 surgical intervention.

Discussion: Overall, GIB can be a significant adverse event in patients under mechanical cardiac support, so proper management of anticoagulation and early endoscopy evaluation remains of great importance.

Keywords: gastrointestinal bleeding; mechanical cardiac support; ventricular assist device.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Heart-Assist Devices / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors