Abstract 20: Dying With a Left Ventricular Assist Device as Destination Therapy
Background: Left ventricular assist devices as destination therapy (DT-LVAD) have been shown to decrease mortality compared with medical management, and can improve quality of life for many patients with advanced heart failure. However, while most patients live longer with DT-LVAD than they would have with medical therapy, deaths still occur. We sought to systematically examine the end-of-life care of patients who died with a DT-LVAD at a single center.
Methods: All patients undergoing DT-LVAD at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota from January 1, 2007 through September 30, 2014 who subsequently died prior to July 1, 2015 were included. The cause of death was determined based on review of documentation in the electronic medical record, including autopsy reports, death certificates and clinical notes. Details about palliative care consultations, hospice enrollment, hospitalizations, and device deactivation at the end-of-life were obtained from the electronic medical record.
Results: Of 89 patients that died with a DT-LVAD (84 HeartMate II, 3 HeartWare, 2 Heartmate XVE, mean age at death 66.1 years), the mean (standard deviation) time from LVAD implantation to death was 2.0 (1.9) years. The most common causes of death were multiorgan failure (25.9%), hemorrhagic stroke (24.7%), and progressive heart failure (20.0%). Nearly half (45.6%) of patients saw palliative care in consultation within a month prior to death. However, only 13 (15.5%) patients enrolled in hospice a median of 11 (range 1-315) days prior to death, including 4 patients with concurrent cancer, 2 with stroke, and 7 with multiorgan failure. The vast majority of patients (78.6%) died in the hospital, and of those hospitalized at death, 87.7% died in the intensive care unit. Most patients hospitalized at death transitioned to a comfort-directed approach to care within 24 hours of dying. In total, 43 (48.3%) patients had their LVAD deactivated prior to death, with all but 3 undergoing deactivation in the hospital. The vast majority of patients died within an hour of LVAD deactivation, and all within 26 hours.
Conclusions: In contrast to the general heart failure population, most patients with DT-LVAD die in the hospital and very few enroll in hospice. A significant body of research has demonstrated that patients who die in the intensive care unit and the hospital, as opposed to home or with hospice assistance, experience worse quality of life, quality of death and caregiver outcomes. Potential reasons that patients with DT-LVAD may experience different end-of-life care than other patients with heart failure exist, including that they often experience sudden changes in health status prior to death from acute events such as hemorrhagic stroke. However, further work is needed to understand these differences and to determine whether patients with DT-LVAD are receiving optimal end-of-life care.
Author Disclosures: S.M. Dunlay: None. J.J. Strand: None. S.E. Wordingham: None. J.M. Stulak: None. S.S. Kushwaha: None. A. Luckhardt: None. K.M. Swetz: None.
- © 2016 by American Heart Association, Inc.