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JACC Heart Fail. 2016 Oct;4(10):761-768. doi: 10.1016/j.jchf.2016.05.010. Epub 2016 Sep 7.

The Impact of Obesity on Patients Bridged to Transplantation With Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Devices.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York.
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center-New York Presbyterian, New York, New York.
Division of Cardiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center-New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York. Electronic address:



This study sought to determine if obese patients had worse post-left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation outcomes and if the implantation of an LVAD allowed for weight loss.


Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease including heart failure. Obese heart failure patients have better outcomes than those with normal weight; however, obese patients have worse outcomes after heart transplantation.


Patients were identified in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database that underwent LVAD implantation as bridge to transplantation from May 2004 and April 2014, with follow-up through June 2014. Patients were grouped according to body mass index (BMI) based on the World Health Organization classification.


Among 3,856 patients, the risk of death or delisting was not significantly different between BMI groups (p = 0.347). There was no increased risk of death (p = 0.234) or delisting (p = 0.918). The risk of complication requiring UNOS status upgrade was increased for those with class II obesity or greater (hazard ratio: 1.48; p = 0.004), driven by increased infection and thromboembolism. Obese patients had worse post-transplantation outcomes. Weight loss substantial enough to decrease BMI group was achieved by a small proportion of patients listed with class I obesity or greater (9.6% to 15.5%).


Patients with obesity had similar freedom from death or delisting while on LVAD support. However, class II obese or greater patients had an increased risk of complications requiring UNOS status upgrade compared with those with normal BMI during LVAD support and decreased post-transplantation survival. Weight loss on device therapy was possible, but uncommon. Careful consideration is needed when a bridge to weight loss strategy is proposed.


left ventricular assist device; obesity; outcome

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