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Limiting factors of peak and submaximal exercise capacity in LVAD patients

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

AIMS: Although patients supported with a Continuous-Flow Left Ventricular Assist Device (CF-LVAD) are hemodynamically stable, their exercise capacity is limited. Hence, the aim of this work was to investigate the underlying factors that lead to peak and submaximal exercise intolerance of CF-LVAD supported patients. METHODS: Seven months after CF-LVAD implantation, eighty three patients performed a maximal cardiopulmonary exercise test and a six minute walk test. Peak oxygen uptake and the distance walked were measured and expressed as a percentage of the predicted value (%VO2p and %6MWD, respectively). Preoperative conditions, echocardiography, laboratory results and pharmacological therapy data were collected and a correlation analysis against %VO2p and %6MWD was performed. RESULTS: CF-LVAD patients showed a relatively higher submaximal exercise capacity (%6MWD = 64±16%) compared to their peak exertion (%VO2p = 51±14%). The variables that correlated with %VO2p were CF-LVAD parameters, chronotropic response, opening of the aortic valve at rest, tricuspid insufficiency, NT-proBNP and the presence of a cardiac implantable electronic device. On the other hand, the variables that correlated with %6MWD were diabetes, creatinine, urea, ventilation efficiency and CF-LVAD pulsatility index. Additionally, both %6MWD and %VO2p were influenced by the CF-LVAD implantation timing, calculated from the occurrence of the cardiac disease. CONCLUSION: Overall, both %6MWD and %VO2p depend on the duration of heart failure prior to CF-LVAD implantation. %6MWD is primarily determined by parameters underlying the patient's general condition, while %VO2p mostly relies on the residual function and chronotropic response of the heart. Moreover, since %VO2p was relatively lower compared to %6MWD, we might infer that CF-LVAD can support submaximal exercise but is not sufficient during peak exertion. Hence concluding that the contribution of the ventricle is crucial in sustaining hemodynamics at peak exercise.
Issue: 7
Volume: 15