Background: Congestive heart failure is associated with blood volume expansion caused by stimulation of the renin-aldosterone system and arginine vasopressin. The use of left ventricular assist devices as bridges to heart transplantation has improved the survival of patients during this critical period. In studying heart failure physiology on support devices, we hypothesized that improvement of cardiac function by a left ventricular assist device is associated with normalization of volume load secondary to normalization of its regulatory substances. Methods and Results: We studied 15 patients (13 men, 2 women; age, 51±8 years) with end-stage heart failure who were cardiac transplant candidates eligible for HeartMate implantation. We measured plasma volume and plasma levels of atrial natriuretic peptide, aldosterone, renin, and arginine vasopressin sequentially before HeartMate implantation (baseline), after HeartMate implantation (weeks 4 and 8), and after transplantation. Baseline plasma volume was 123±20% of normal; it was 122±22% at week 4 and decreased to 115±14% at week 8. Atrial natriuretic peptide was 359±380 pg/mL at baseline, 245±175 pg/mL at week 4, and 151±66 pg/mL at week 8. Plasma aldosterone fell from 68±59 ng/dL at baseline to 17±16 ng/dL at week 4 (P<.05 versus baseline) and was 32±50 ng/dL at week 8. Plasma renin activity decreased from 80±88 ng/dL at baseline to 11±12 ng/dL at week 4 and was 16±38 ng/dL at week 8 (both P<.05 versus baseline). Arginine vasopressin fell from 5.0±4.8 fmol/mL at baseline to 1.1±0.7 fmol/mL at week 4 and 1.2±0.8 fmol/mL at week 8 (both P<.05 versus baseline). Conclusions: The reduction of plasma renin activity, plasma aldosterone, and arginine vasopressin occurred earlier than the reduction of plasma volume and atrial natriuretic peptide after HeartMate implantation, possibly because of decreased pulmonary congestion and improved renal perfusion. The reduction of atrial natriuretic peptide cannot be responsible for the lack of adequate decrease of plasma volume; its reduction can be taken as a marker of improved cardiac pump function and decreased atrial stretch.
- heart failure
- heart-assist device
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)