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Ten year survival after heart transplantation: palliative procedure or successful long term treatment?
  1. S Fraund,
  2. K Pethig,
  3. U Franke,
  4. T Wahlers,
  5. W Harringer,
  6. J Cremer,
  7. H-G Fieguth,
  8. P Oppelt,
  9. A Haverich
  1. Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Hannover Medical School, 30623 Hannover, Germany
  1. Dr Pethig.


OBJECTIVE To investigate the long term outcome and prognostic factors after heart transplantation.

SETTING University hospital.

SUBJECTS 120 heart transplant patients (98 male, 22 female; underlying disease: dilated cardiomyopathy in 69, coronary artery disease in 42, miscellaneous in nine) who had undergone heart transplantation between October 1984 and October 1987. Immunosuppressive treatment was comparable in all patients and rejection episodes were treated in a uniform manner.

METHODS Functional status, quality of life, and potential predictors for long term survival were investigated.

RESULTS Actuarial survival rates were 65% at five years and 48% at 10 years; 58 patients survived > 10 years. The major causes of death were cardiac allograft vasculopathy (39%), acute rejection (18%), infection (11%), and malignancy (11%). Long term survivors had good exercise tolerance assessed by the New York Heart Association classification: 47 (81%) in grade I/II; 11 (19%) in grade III/IV. Echocardiography showed good left ventricular function in 48 patients. On angiography, severe allograft vasculopathy was present in only 16 patients (28%). Renal function was only slightly impaired, with mean (SD) serum creatinine of 148.5 (84.9) μmol/l. Multiple potential predictors of long term survival were analysed but none was found useful.

CONCLUSIONS Heart transplantation represents a valuable form of treatment. Survival for more than 10 years with a good exercise tolerance and acceptable side effects from immunosuppression can be achieved in about 50% of patients.

  • heart transplantation
  • long term survival

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