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LVAD use soars in elderly Americans



– The percentage of left ventricular assist devices placed in U.S. heart failure patients at least 75 years of age jumped sharply during 2003-2014, and concurrently the short-term survival of these patients improved dramatically, according to data collected by the National Inpatient Sample.

During the 12-year period examined, the percentage of left-ventricular assist devices (LVADs) placed in U.S. heart failure patients aged 75 years and older rose from 3% of all LVADs in 2003 to 11% in 2014, Aniket S. Rali, MD, said at the annual scientific meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America.

Dr. Aniket S. Rali, a cardiologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City Mitchel L. Zoler/Frontline Medical News

Dr. Aniket S. Rali

In actual numbers, LVAD placement into elderly patients jumped from 23 in 2003 to 405 in 2014, a greater than 17-fold increase. During the same period, total U.S. LVAD use rose from 726 placed in 2003 to 3,855 placed in 2014, about a fivefold increase.

The U.S. national numbers also showed that throughout the period studied, elderly U.S. patients who received an LVAD were increasingly sicker, with steadily increasing numbers of patients with a Charlson Comorbidity Index score of four or greater. Despite this, in-hospital mortality rates of elderly patients receiving an LVAD plummeted, dropping from 61% of elderly LVAD recipients in 2003 to 18% in 2014. During the same time, the percentage of elderly patients with a Charlson Comorbidity Index score greater than four doubled from 33% in 2003 to 66% in 2014, said Dr. Rali, a cardiologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.

“If the Charlson Comorbidity Index score is increasing but in-hospital mortality is decreasing, then increased LVAD use is not a bad trend,” Dr. Rali said in an interview. He hopes that future analysis of longitudinal data from patients could identify clinical factors that link with better patient survival and help target LVAD placement to the patients who stand to gain the most benefit.

“We may be able to give these elderly patients not just longer life but improved quality of life” by a more informed targeting of LVADs, he suggested. “I think these numbers will help convince people that all is not lost,” he noted, for elderly heart failure patients who receive an LVAD as destination therapy. Patients at least 75 years old are not eligible for heart transplantation, so when these patients receive an LVAD it is, by definition, destination therapy.

The data also showed a marked sex disparity in LVAD use, with LVAD placement in men at least 75 years old rising from 1.4/1,000 patients in 2003 to 2.78/1,000 patients in 2014. In contrast, among women these rates rose from 0.8/1,000 patients in 2003 to 1.36/1,000 patients in 2014.

The average age for elderly U.S. LVAD recipients for the entire 12-year period studied was 77.6 years among a total of 2,090 recipients. For all 21,323 U.S. LVAD recipients during 2003-2014 the average age was 51.5 years old.

On Twitter @mitchelzoler

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