Stroke after implantation of continuous flow left ventricular assist devices

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Journal of cardiac surgery


OBJECTIVE: Stroke remains a frequent and devastating complication after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation, despite recent advances in device technology. The aim of this study was to analyze risk factors and outcomes of stroke following implantation of 200 continuous-flow LVADs at our institution.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed patients who underwent LVAD implantation from 2011-2016. Data were available for a total of 200 patients.

RESULTS: Post-LVAD stroke occurred in 13% of patients (26 of 200). Ischemic stroke occurred in 50% of patients (13 of 26), and hemorrhagic stroke in 50% (13 of 26). The median duration of LVAD support at the time of stroke was 257.4 days. Baseline characteristics did not differ significantly between the stroke and stroke-free cohorts. The mean international normalized ratio (INR) at the time of embolic stroke was 1.86 (range, 1.23-3.25) and 4.62 (range, 1.4-21.4) in patients with hemorrhagic stroke (P = .014). Mortality within 30 days of stroke was 31% (8 of 26). Mortality for hemorrhagic stroke was 63% (5 of 8) and 37% (3 of 8) for ischemic stroke ( P = .03). Among the 18 patients that survived stroke, 28% (5 of 18) received a heart transplant, 39% (7 of 18) are receiving ongoing LVAD support, and 33% (6 of 18) have died from unrelated causes. Multivariate analysis showed that INR level, aortic cross-clamping, a history of previous stroke, and postoperative infection were significant predictors for post-LVAD stroke.

CONCLUSION: The occurrence of stroke significantly increases morbidity and mortality after LVAD implantation. Despite an adverse impact on survival and quality of life, several patients who suffered stroke still received a heart transplant. Furthermore, none of our patients had recurrence of a neurological event. Strict implementation of anticoagulation protocols is likely the mainstay of preventing this devastating complication.

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ePub ahead of print