Sex disparities in left ventricular assist device implantation outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of over 50 000 patients


Left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) represent an important therapeutic option for patients progressing to end-stage heart failure. Women have been historically underrepresented in LVAD studies, and have been reported to have worse outcomes despite technological optimisation. We aimed to systematically explore the evidence on sex disparities in the use and outcomes of LVAD implantation.


A systematic database search with meta-analysis was conducted of comparative original articles of men versus women undergoing LVAD implantation, in EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cochrane database and Google Scholar, from inception to July 2022. Primary outcomes were stroke (haemorrhagic and ischaemic) and early/overall mortality. Secondary outcomes were LVAD thrombosis, right VAD implantation, major bleeding, kidney dysfunction, and device/driveline infection.


Our search yielded 137 relevant studies, including 22 meeting the inclusion criteria with a total of 53 227 patients (24.2% women). Overall mortality was higher in women (odds ratio [OR] 1.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-1.62, p = 0.02), as was overall stroke (OR 1.32, 95%CI 1.06-1.66, p = 0.01), including ischemic (OR 1.80, 95%CI 1.22-2.64, p = 0.003) and haemorrhagic (OR 1.72, 95%CI 1.09-2.70, p = 0.02). Women had more frequent right VAD implantation (OR 2.11, 95%CI 1.24-3.57, p = 0.006) and major bleeding (OR 1.40, 95%CI 1.06-1.85, p = 0.02). Kidney dysfunction, LVAD thrombosis, and device/driveline infections were comparable between sexes.


Our analysis suggests that women face a greater risk of adverse events and mortality post-LVAD implantation. Although the mechanisms remain unclear, the difference in outcomes is thought to be multifactorial. Further research, that includes comprehensive pre-operative characteristics and post-operative outcomes, is encouraged.

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