Clinical psychological and neuropsychological issues with left ventricular assist devices (LVADs)
Background: Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are increasingly being used to treat patients in end-stage heart failure (HF) as bridge-to-transplantation, lifetime support or destination therapy. However, the importance of this newer technique for chronic cardiac support compared to heart transplantation is still open to discussion. To date, there are few studies that extensively explore the psychological and cognitive profiles of patient with ventricular assist devices (VADs).
Methods: We studied the psychological aspects, quality of life (QOL) and cognitive profiles of 19 patients with HF before VAD implantation and then at two, five and 16 months post-implantation.
Results: Our results showed that after VAD implantation, patients did not show any psychopathological problems such as anxiety and/or depression. More interestingly, despite the constant risk of neurological events determined by the continuous-blood-flow pump (CBFP), patients’ cognitive functioning did not worsen. In fact, significant enhancements were observed over time.
Conclusions: Psychological and cognitive deficits are common in advanced HF and often worsen over time. Appropriately designed and randomized studies are needed to demonstrate whether earlier VAD implantation is warranted to arrest cognitive decline and encourage better post-implantation adaptation.