End-stage heart failure: Two surgical approaches with different rehabilitative outcomes

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© 2017 Racca et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background: A rising number of patients are surgically treated for heart failure at the more advanced stage, thanks to the increasing use of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) as a reliable alternative to heart transplantation (HTx). However, it is still unknown whether differences exist between the two surgical approaches in the efficacy of rehabilitation programmes. Therefore, aim of this study was to evaluate whether functional capacity and rehabilitative outcomes differ between HTx and implantation of LVAD. Methods and results: We enrolled 51 patients with HTx and 46 with LVAD upon admission to our rehabilitation-unit. We evaluated six-minute walking test (6MWT), resting oxygen saturation (SaO 2 ) and nutritional assessment before and after a standardised cardiovascular rehabilitation programme. HTx and LVAD groups differed in age, anthropometric variables, gender distribution. Upon enrolment, 6MWT distance was similar in the two groups, whereas malnutrition was less frequent and the waist circumference/height ratio (WHtR) was greater in LVAD patients. SaO 2 was greater in HTx patients. Rehabilitation improved SaO 2 , 6MWT distance and nutritional status. The difference in malnutrition disappeared, but WHtR remained higher in the LVAD and SaO 2 higher in the HTx patients; the 6MWT distance improved more in the HTx patients. Multivariate linear regression analysis confirmed that the type of intervention was independent predictor of 6MWT distance after rehabilitation. Conclusions: HTx patients improve more rapidly and perform better after rehabilitation, suggesting the need for more tailored rehabilitation training for LVAD patients.




Racca, V., Castiglioni, P., Panzarino, C., Oliva, F., Perna, E., & Ferratini, M. (2017). End-stage heart failure: Two surgical approaches with different rehabilitative outcomes. PLoS ONE, 12(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185717

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