An institutional overview of gastrointestinal bleeding among 563 continuous flow left ventricular assist device recipients


Advocate Christ Medical Center


Background and Aims

Gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) is a common morbidity among continuous-flow left ventricular assist device (CF-LVAD) recipients. The study objectives were to investigate the incidence, recurrence, risk factors, and medical and endoscopic management of GIB among CF-LVAD patients.


This is a single-center retrospective study analyzing 563 CF-LVAD recipients implanted at a large tertiary referral center from 2007 to 2018 with 619 bleeding events characterized. Patients with device exchanges or history of right ventricular assist devices were excluded. Chart review data pertaining to demographics, LVAD characteristics, endoscopic reports, and medications were collected.


The incidence of GIB was 44%, with a median time to first bleed of 133 days and a recurrence rate of 53%. Approximately 13% of patients had ≥5 GIB events. There is an association of reduced GIB among patients taking angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEis). There was no association with GIB and acid-reducing medications, antiplatelet medications, and history of GIB before device implantation. Arteriovenous malformations were the most common bleeding etiology. CF-LVAD patients that bled more frequently were older, had their CF-LVAD longer, and bled earlier after LVAD implantation.


This is the largest comprehensive single-center GIB study among CF-LVAD recipients. The incidence and recurrence of GIB among CF-LVAD recipients is underreported. Push enteroscopy improves diagnostic yield for upper GIB. Special attention should be given to CF-LVAD patients that bleed within the first 18 days of implantation. There is an associative, dose-dependent benefit of ACEi medications among CF-LVAD recipients. Further studies on this effect are warranted.