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Background: The etiology and risk factors associated with gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) in patients with continuous-flow left ventricular assist devices (CF-LVADs) are currently unknown. Therefore, we sought to assess the risk factors for GIB in these patients.

Design and Methods: This was a retrospective, non-randomized, non-controlled study at a single center. Between 2012 and 2014, 65 men and 6 women (mean age = 55 ± 12 years) underwent CF-LVAD implantation at our institution. Overall, 23.9% of patients (17/71) had at least one GIB episode. Endoscopy confirmed GIB in 13/17. Arteriovenous malformation was the major GIB source in 8/13 (61%). There was no significant difference in incidence of GIB with regard to INTERMACS profile, blood type, or device type—HeartWare vs. HeartMateII. All our patients with GIB were men, most had hyperlipidemia, and most likely had ischemic cardiomyopathy (65%) and peripheral vascular disease (24%). The only significant risk factor for GIB was chronic kidney disease (odds ratio= 3.95; 95% confidence interval of 1.21 to 12.84; p=0.02). At the time of the first GIB, mean hemoglobin was 7.38 ± 1.06 g/dl, international normalized ratio was 2.08 ± 0.69 IU, and mean arterial pressure was 75 ± 12 mmHg. Ten patients (59%) required hospital admission for treatment.

Conclusion: In our patients GIB was often a single event and often occurred within first month after implantation. Prevention strategies should be focused on this vulnerable period, especially in patients with chronic kidney disease.



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