Impact of Patient Distance From Ventricular Assist Device–Implanting Center on Short- and Long-Term Outcomes
Highly specialized left ventricular assist device care is not readily available in many areas, potentially limiting access to therapy. This retrospective analysis examines the relationship of outcomes by patient distance from implanting left ventricular assist device center within the Mechanical Circulatory Support Research Network. Zip codes were used to calculate patient distance, with the primary outcome of interest being 3-year survival by distance from the surgical center. Secondary outcomes included 90-day survival and incident event rates for the following: gastrointestinal bleeding, infection, cerebral event, and pump thrombosis. Across the four centers, there were 1184 patients supported for a median of 486 days. Overall survival was 91 ± 0.8% at 90 days and 61 ± 1.9% at 3 years, with worse 3-year survival in those living >90 vs. ≤90 miles from the ventricular assist device implant center (55 ± 3.0% vs. 64 ± 2.5, p = 0.019). Patients living >90 miles from an implant center were older, more likely to be implanted for destination therapy support, had a prior sternotomy, and had worse renal function than those living closer (p <0.05 for all). After adjusting for these factors, albumin and center of implant, the hazard ratio did not reach statistical significance (hazard ratio = 1.2; p = 0.14). Except for gastrointestinal bleeding, the event rates for the secondary outcomes were higher for those living closer to the implanting center. Protocols should be designed for more frequent follow-up and increased shared care opportunities to ensure optimal outcomes are achieved in distant patients.