Can a Left Ventricular Assist Device in Individuals with Advanced Systolic Heart Failure Improve or Reverse Frailty?

Mathew S. Maurer, Evelyn Horn, Alex Reyentovich, Victoria Vaughan Dickson, Sean Pinney, Deena Goldwater, Nathan E. Goldstein, Omar Jimenez, Sergio Teruya, Jeff Goldsmith, Stephen Helmke, Melana Yuzefpolskaya, Gordon R. Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Objectives: Frailty, characterized by low physiological reserves, is strongly associated with vulnerability to adverse outcomes. Features of frailty overlap with those of advanced heart failure, making a distinction between them difficult. We sought to determine whether implantation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) would decrease frailty. Design: Prospective, cohort study. Setting: Five academic medical centers. Participants: Frail individuals (N = 29; mean age 70.6 ± 5.5, 72.4% male). Measurements: Frailty, defined as having 3 or more of the Fried frailty criteria, was assessed before LVAD implantation and 1, 3, and 6 months after implantation. Other domains assessed included quality of life, using the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire; mood, using the Patient Health Questionnaire; and cognitive function, using the Trail-Making Test Part B. Results: After 6 months, three subjects had died, and one had undergone a heart transplant; of 19 subjects with serial frailty measures, the average number of frailty criteria decreased from 3.9 ± 0.9 at baseline to 2.8 ± 1.4 at 6 months (P =.003). Improvements were observed after 3 to 6 months of LVAD support, although 10 (52.6%) participants still had 3 or more Fried criteria, and all subjects had at least one at 6 months. Changes in frailty were associated with improvement in QOL but not with changes in mood or cognition. Higher estimated glomerular filtration rate at baseline was independently associated with a decrease in frailty. Conclusion: Frailty decreased in approximately half of older adults with advanced heart failure after 6 months of LVAD support. Strategies to enhance frailty reversal in this population are worthy of additional study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2383-2390
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • advanced heart failure
  • frailty
  • ventricular assist device

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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