An Analysis of Waitlist Inactivity Among Patients With Ventricular Assist Devices

James J. Whitbread, Katherine A. Giuliano, Kent Stevens, Alejandro I. Suarez-Pierre, Jennifer S. Lawton, Steven Hsu, Kavita Sharma, Chun W. Choi, Robert S.D. Higgins, Ahmet Kilic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are commonly used mechanical circulatory support for bridge to transplant therapy in end-stage heart failure; however, it is not understood how VADs influence incidence of waitlist inactive status. We sought to characterize and compare waitlist inactivity among patients with and without VADs. Methods: Using the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network database, we investigated the VAD's impact on incidence and length of inactive periods for heart transplant candidates from 2005 through 2018. We compared median length of inactivity between patients with and without VADs and investigated inactivity risk with time-to-event regression models. Results: Among 46,441 heart transplant candidates, 32% (n = 14,636) had a VAD. Thirty-eight percent (n = 17,873) of all patients experienced inactivity, of which 42% (7538/17,873) had a VAD. Median inactivity length was 31 d for patients without VADs and 62 d for VAD patients (P < 0.0005). Multivariable analysis showed no significant difference in risk of inactivity for deteriorating conditions between patients with and without VADs after controlling for demographic and baseline clinical variables. A larger proportion of patients without VADs were inactive for deteriorating conditions than VAD patients (54%, n = 8242/15,221 versus 32%, n = 3583/11,086, P < 0.001). Ten percent (1155/11,086) of VAD patients’ inactive periods were for VAD-related complications. Conclusions: Although VAD patients were inactive longer and had an overall increased risk of any-cause inactivity, their risk of inactivity for deteriorating condition was not significantly different from patients without VADs. Furthermore, VAD patients had a smaller proportion of inactivity periods due to deteriorating conditions. Thus, VADs are protective from morbidity for waitlist patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-390
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Database
  • Heart failure
  • Mechanical circulatory support
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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