Importance: While wide-scale adoption of durable left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) can be attributed to favorable randomized clinical trial outcomes, restrictive selection criteria may be associated with a lack of generalizability to real-world experience.
Objective: To estimate the proportion of LVAD recipients who are eligible for clinical trials and to assess whether an association exists between trial eligibility and mortality.
Design, setting, and participants: This cohort study examined 14 679 patients undergoing primary, intracorporeal continuous-flow LVAD implantation (with or without a right ventricular assist device) in 181 North American centers from January 1, 2012, to June 30, 2017, identified in the Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support (INTERMACS). To simulate a trial population, trial criteria from the Multicenter Study of MagLev Technology in Patients Undergoing Mechanical Circulatory Therapy With HeartMate 3 (MOMENTUM 3) were mapped to INTERMACS variables. Patients were categorized as eligible for trial inclusion or ineligible for trial inclusion and by number of ineligibility criteria met. Follow-up in INTERMACS was complete for all patients through October 31, 2017. Data were analyzed from July 2019 through November 2020.
Exposures: Undergoing durable LVAD implantation.
Main outcomes and measures: Trial eligibility and postimplant mortality were analyzed using Kaplan-Meier estimates and Cox proportional hazards models.
Results: Among 14 679 recipients, mean (SD) age was 57 (13) years, 11 503 individuals (78.4%) were men, and 11 406 individuals (77.7%) presented with New York Heart Association class IV heart failure. A total of 6429 recipients (43.8%) were ineligible for trial inclusion, of whom 4226 individuals (65.7%) met 1 ineligibility criterion, 1442 individuals (22.4%) met 2 criteria, and 761 individuals (11.8%) met 3 or more criteria. Estimated mortality for recipients who were trial-ineligible was higher than for recipients who were trial-eligible (1-year mortality: 25.3% [95% CI, 24.2%-26.5%] vs 16.2% [95% CI, 15.4%-17.1%]; 3-year mortality: 42.8% [95% CI, 41.3%-44.4%] vs 36.4% [95% CI, 35.0%-37.8%]; log-rank P < .001 for both). Patients who were trial-ineligible had increased risk of mortality compared with patients who were trial-eligible if they met 1 trial ineligibility criterion (hazard ratio [HR], 1.16 [95% CI, 1.08-1.24]; P < .001), 2 trial ineligibility criteria (HR, 1.51 [95% CI, 1.36-1.67]; P < .001), or 3 or more trial ineligibility criteria (HR, 2.09 [95% CI, 1.84-2.39]; P < .001). Among patients meeting only 1 ineligibility criterion, 4 criteria were independently associated with mortality: prior or ongoing mechanical circulatory support (HR, 1.63 [95% CI, 1.23-2.16]; P = .001), elevated creatinine level (HR, 1.42 [95% CI, 1.17-1.72]; P < .001), elevated bilirubin level (HR, 1.39 [95% CI, 1.17-1.66]; P < .001), and low albumin or prealbumin level (HR, 1.18 [95% CI, 1.05-1.33]; P = .007).
Conclusions and relevance: These findings suggest that while treatment for patients who are ineligible for LVAD trial inclusion should be weighed against medical management, more consideration could be given to designing trials with eligibility criteria that reflect real-world experience.