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Electrical storm in patients with left ventricular assist devices: Risk factors, incidence, and impact on survival

      Background

      Ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) and electrical storm (ES) are recognized complications following left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation; however, their association with long term-outcomes remains poorly understood.

      Objective

      The purpose of this study was to describe the clinical impact of ES in a population of patients undergoing LVAD implantation at a quaternary care center in the United States.

      Methods

      This was an observational retrospective study of patients undergoing LVAD implantation from 2009 to 2020 at Duke University Hospital. The incidence of ES (≥3 sustained VA episodes over a 24-hour period without an identifiable reversible cause) was determined from patient records. Risk factors for ES were identified using multivariable Cox proportional hazards modeling.

      Results

      Among 730 patients undergoing LVAD implant, 78 (10.7%) developed ES at a median of 269 (interquartile range [IQR] 7–766) days following surgery. Twenty-seven patients (34.6%) developed ES within 30 days, while 51 (65.4%) presented with ES at a median 639 (IQR 281–1017) days after implant. Following ES, 41% of patients died within 1 year. Patients who developed ES were more likely to have a history of VAs, ventricular tachycardia ablation, antiarrhythmic drug use, and perioperative mechanical circulatory support around the time of LVAD implant than patients without ES.

      Conclusion

      ES occurs in 1 in 10 patients after LVAD and is associated with higher mortality. Risk factors for ES include a history of VAs, VT ablation, antiarrhythmic drug use, and perioperative mechanical circulatory support. Optimal management of ES surrounding LVAD implant, including escalation of medical therapy, catheter ablation, or adjunctive sympatholytic therapies, remains uncertain.

      Keywords

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