BACKGROUND: Venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VA-ECMO) is increasingly used to treat cardiogenic shock. However, VA-ECMO might hamper myocardial recovery. The Impella unloads the left ventricle. This study aimed to evaluate whether left ventricular unloading in patients with cardiogenic shock treated with VA-ECMO was associated with lower mortality.
METHODS: Data from 686 consecutive patients with cardiogenic shock treated with VA-ECMO with or without left ventricular unloading using an Impella at 16 tertiary care centers in 4 countries were collected. The association between left ventricular unloading and 30-day mortality was assessed by Cox regression models in a 1:1 propensity score-matched cohort.
RESULTS: Left ventricular unloading was used in 337 of the 686 patients (49%). After matching, 255 patients with left ventricular unloading were compared with 255 patients without left ventricular unloading. In the matched cohort, left ventricular unloading was associated with lower 30-day mortality (hazard ratio, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.63-0.98]; P=0.03) without differences in various subgroups. Complications occurred more frequently in patients with left ventricular unloading: severe bleeding in 98 (38.4%) versus 45 (17.9%), access site-related ischemia in 55 (21.6%) versus 31 (12.3%), abdominal compartment in 23 (9.4%) versus 9 (3.7%), and renal replacement therapy in 148 (58.5%) versus 99 (39.1%).
CONCLUSIONS: In this international, multicenter cohort study, left ventricular unloading was associated with lower mortality in patients with cardiogenic shock treated with VA-ECMO, despite higher complication rates. These findings support use of left ventricular unloading in patients with cardiogenic shock treated with VA-ECMO and call for further validation, ideally in a randomized, controlled trial.