Background: Although the use of a left-ventricular assist system (LVAS) provides circulatory support for end-stage heart failure patients awaiting heart transplantation, this procedure is accompanied by a relatively high perioperative mortality. The aim of this retrospective study was to identify those patients preoperatively which have the highest perioperative mortality.
Methods and results: Forty-five consecutive patients undergoing LVAS implantation were evaluated for preoperative risk factors, including body mass index, hemodynamic data, and blood chemistry studies by multivariate analysis. They were divided into (1) patients who were successfully transplanted (n = 25) and (2) patients who died before transplantation (n = 20). The nonsurvivors were subclassified into patients who died within 14 days after surgery (n = 11) and patients who died after 2 weeks of device implantation (n = 9). Hemodynamic parameters were the same in both groups, but total cholesterol was significantly lower in the nonsurvivors than in the survivors (90 +/- 7 vs. 144 +/- 8 mg/dl, respectively, p < 0.0001). The sensitivity of predicting perioperative death with a serum cholesterol below 100 mg/dl was 100%, the specificity of predicting survival with a serum cholesterol above 120 mg/dl was 87%.
Conclusion: In this small retrospective study, there was a correlation between total cholesterol levels and survival of patients with advanced heart failure on mechanical support. A cholesterol level below 100 mg/dl was accompanied by a high perioperative mortality. In contrast, a cholesterol level above 120 mg/dl was accompanied by a 87% chance of survival. The results suggest a predictive value of cholesterol which is independent of the hemodynamic status.