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Patients with Fontan failure are high-risk candidates for heart transplantation and other advanced therapies. Understanding the outcomes following initial heart failure consultation can help define appropriate timing of referral for advanced heart failure care.
This is a survey study of heart failure providers seeing any Fontan patient for initial heart failure care. Part 1 of the survey captured data on clinical characteristics at the time of heart failure consultation, and Part 2, completed 30 days later, captured outcomes (death, transplant evaluation outcome, and other interventions). Patients were classified as “too late” (death or declined for transplant due to being too sick) and/or “care escalation” (ventricular assist device implanted, inotrope initiated, and/or listed for transplant), within 30 days. “Late referral” was defined as those referred too late and/or had care escalation.
Between 7/2020 and 7/2022, 77 Fontan patients (52% inpatient) had an initial heart failure consultation. Ten per cent were referred too late (6 were too sick for heart transplantation with one subsequent death, and two others died without heart transplantation evaluation, within 30 days), and 36% had care escalation (21 listed ± 5 ventricular assist device implanted ± 6 inotrope initiated). Overall, 42% were late referrals. Heart failure consultation < 1 year after Fontan surgery was strongly associated with late referral (OR 6.2, 95% CI 1.8–21.5, p=0.004).
Over 40% of Fontan patients seen for an initial heart failure consultation were late referrals, with 10% dying or being declined for transplant within a month of consultation. Earlier referral, particularly for those with heart failure soon after Fontan surgery, should be encouraged.
The Advanced Cardiac Therapies Improving Outcomes Network (ACTION) and Pediatric Heart Transplant Society (PHTS) convened a working group at the beginning of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of using telehealth as an alternative medium to provide quality care to a high-acuity paediatric population receiving advanced cardiac therapies. An algorithm was developed to determine appropriateness, educational handouts were developed for both patients and providers, and post-visit surveys were collected. Telehealth was found to be a viable modality for health care delivery in the paediatric heart failure and transplant population and has promising application in the continuity of follow-up, medication titration, and patient education/counselling domains.
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