Aortic insufficiency (AI) is known to associate with a persistently closed aortic valve during continuous-flow ventricular assist device support. Some devices carry an intermittent low-speed (ILS) function, which facilitates aortic valve opening, but whether this function prevents AI is unknown. In this study, the Jarvik 2000 device, which is programmed to reduce the pump speed each minute for 8 s, was chosen to examine this potential effect. Prospectively collected data of 85 heart transplant-eligible Jarvik 2000 recipients who met the study criteria (no pre-existing AI and aortic valve surgery) were retrospectively analyzed for the incidence, correlating factors, and clinical outcomes of de novo AI. All data were provided by the Japanese Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support. De novo AI occurred in 58 patients, 23 of whom developed at least moderate AI during a median support duration of 23.5 months. Freedom from moderate or greater AI was 84.4%, 66.1% and 60.2% at 1, 2 and 3 years, respectively. Multivariate analyses revealed that progressive AI was correlated with decreased pulse pressure after implantation (hazard ratio 1.060, 95% confidence interval 1.001–1.127, p = 0.045). No correlation was found for mortality or other adverse events, including stroke, bleeding, infection, pump failure, hemolysis, and readmission. The benefit of the Jarvik 2000′s current ILS mode against AI appears to be minimal. However, in this limited cohort where all recipients underwent implantation as a bridge to transplantation, the impact of de novo progressive AI on other clinical adversities was also minimal.
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