Self-care behaviours of patients with left ventricular assist devices in Israel: changes during the COVID-19 pandemic

ESC Heart Fail. 2023 Apr 19. doi: 10.1002/ehf2.14376. Online ahead of print.


Aims: Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) support the hearts of patients with advanced heart failure. Following LVAD implantation, patients face a complex regimen of self-care behaviours including self-care maintenance, self-care monitoring and self-care management. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, symptoms of anxiety and depression may have interfered with their self-care. Currently, little is known on how specific self-care behaviours of LVAD-implanted patients changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. We aim to describe the changes in self-care behaviours among patients with an implanted LVAD in Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic and explore the factors related to self-care behaviour change.

Methods: A prospective observational cross-sectional study design. A convenience sample of 27 Israeli LVAD-implanted patients (mean age 62.4 ± 9, 86% male, 78.6% living with a partner) completed the LVAD Self-Care Behaviour Scale (1 = never to 5 = always) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (0 = not at all to 3 = most of the time). Data were collected before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel. Statistical analyses included paired t-tests, Pearson's correlations, and one-way repeated measures ANOVAs.

Results: During the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant decrease was found in patients' adherence to checking and recording their LVAD speed, flow, power and PI (Pulsatility Index) (P = 0.05), checking their INR (P = 0.01), and daily weighing (P < 0.01). The prevalence of some behaviours (e.g. regularly exercising) increased in some patients and decreased in others. Patients living without a partner worsened their adherence to some of the self-care behaviours (e.g. taking medicines as prescribed), compared with those living with a partner (Mb = 5.0 ± 0 and Md = 5.0 ± 0, delta = 0 vs. Mb = 5.0 ± 0 and Md = 4.6 ± 0.9, delta = -0.4, respectively; F = 4.9, P = 0.04). Women, and not men, tended to improve their adherence to the self-care behaviour such as avoiding kinking, pulling, or moving the LVAD driveline at the exit site (Mb = 4.0 ± 1.0 and Md = 5.0 ± 0, delta = 1.0 vs. Mb = 4.5 ± 0.9 and Md = 4.4 ± 1.2, delta = -0.1, F = 4.7, P = 0.04, respectively). In total, 41% (11) patients reported neither anxiety nor depression, 11% (3) reported anxiety, 15% (4) reported depression, and 44% (12) reported both anxiety and depression. No associations between anxiety and/or depression and self-care behaviours were found.

Conclusions: Priorities in self-care behaviours among patients with implanted LVAD changed after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors that assisted with adherence to self-care behaviours included living with a partner and being female. The current results may guide further research on identifying behaviours that are at risk of not being maintained during a time of emergency.

Keywords: COVID-19; LVAD; Self-care.