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Heart Transplant
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Heart Transplant?

This is surgery to remove a severely diseased and failing heart. It is replaced with a healthy heart from a deceased donor.

Normal vs. Diseased Heart
Normal vs. Diseased Heart
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

A heart transplant is done if you have:

  • End stage heart disease that is life-threatening and cannot be fixed (but you are in otherwise good health)—This is most often due to cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) with severe congestive heart failure.
  • Severe coronary artery disease that cannot be fixed with medicine or other surgeries
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Valvular defects making it too hard for the heart to pump blood through the body
  • Uncontrollable life-threatening irregular heart rhythms

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have a heart transplant, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Rejection of the new heart
  • Coronary artery disease (50% of all heart-transplant recipients develop coronary artery disease)
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Decreased brain function
  • Damage to other body organs, like the kidneys
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • Infection or cancer related to taking immunosuppressive medicines
  • Death

More than 80% of heart transplant patients live for at least one year after surgery. Most return to normal activities, including work and exercise.

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Age: 60 or older ...