Background-The physiological stress suffered by patients with heart failure results in an increased production of cortisol and a shift in the leukocyte differential toward a decreased percentage of lymphocytes (%L). The purpose of this study was to determine the prognostic significance of a low %L in advanced heart failure. Methods and Results-Patients evaluated in our cardiac transplantation clinic between April 1988 and July 1995 were retrospectively reviewed (n=263). Fifty-two patients were excluded because they had recent trauma, infection, surgery, myocardial infarction, corticosteroid use, or history of malignancy. In the remaining 211 patients, we used Cox proportional hazards analysis to examine the association between survival and transplant-free survival with baseline variables. Univariate analysis showed a significant association between time to death and %L (P=.004), New York Heart Association (NYHA) class (P=.002), and maximal oxygen uptake (P=.05). Univariate analysis of the end point of survival free from transplantation yielded similar results. One- and 4-year survival rates for patients with a low %L (<20.3%) were 78% and 34% compared with 90% and 73% for those with a normal %L. Multivariate analysis showed NYHA class (P<.008) and %L (P<.01) were independent predictors of survival and survival free from cardiac transplantation. Conclusions-The relative lymphocyte concentration is an inexpensive, readily available, simple prognostic marker in patients with symptomatic heart failure who do not have recent trauma, refection, surgery, myocardial infarction, corticosteroid use, or history of malignancy. It could be incorporated into clinical models to predict patient outcome and to aid in the selection of patients for cardiac transplantation.
- Heart failure