Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are a common treatment of advanced heart failure, but cognitive dysfunction, which is common in heart failure, could limit the ability to perform postimplantation LVAD care. Implantation of an LVAD has been associated with improved cerebral perfusion and may improve cognitive function post implantation.
The aim of this study was to quantify longitudinal change in cognitive function after LVAD implantation.
A secondary analysis of data on 101 adults was completed to evaluate cognitive function before implantation and again at 1, 3, and 6 months post implantation of an LVAD. Latent growth curve modeling was conducted to characterize change over time. Serial versions of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment were used to measure overall (total) cognitive function and function in 6 cognitive domains.
There was moderate, nonlinear improvement from preimplantation to 6 months post implantation in Montreal Cognitive Assessment total score (Hedges' g = 0.50) and in short-term memory (Hedges' g = 0.64). There also were small, nonlinear improvements in visuospatial ability, executive function, and attention from preimplantation to 6 months post implantation (Hedges' g = 0.20–0.28). The greatest improvements were observed in the first 3 months after implantation and were followed by smaller, sustained improvements or no additional significant change.
Implantation of an LVAD is associated with significant, nonlinear improvement in short-term memory and global cognitive function, with the most significant improvements occurring in the first 3 months after implantation. Clinicians should anticipate improvements in cognitive function after LVAD implantation and modify postimplantation education to maximize effectiveness of LVAD self-care.