|Normal Heart and Heart with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy|
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Reasons for Procedure
- End stage heart disease that is life threatening and cannot be fixed with medication or other surgeries, but you are in otherwise good health—This is most often due to cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle, along with severe heart failure.
- Severe coronary artery disease that cannot be fixed with medication or other surgeries.
- Congenital heart defects that cannot be fixed with medication or other surgeries.
- Valvular defects that cannot be fixed with medication or other surgeries—This condition makes it too hard for the heart to pump blood through the body.
- Uncontrollable life-threatening irregular heart rhythms that cannot be fixed with medication or other surgeries.
- Rejection of the new heart
- Coronary artery disease
- Blood clots
- Decreased brain function
- Damage to other body organs, such as the kidneys
- Irregular heart rate
- Anesthesia-related problems
- Infection or cancer related to taking immunosuppressive medications
- Lung disease
- Poor circulation
- Kidney or liver disease
- Presence of serious active infection, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis
- Treatment for cancer within the past five years
- Fatigue and malnourishment
- Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes
- Previous stroke or other damage to the blood vessels of the brain
- Continued substance abuse or alcohol use disorder
- Autoimmune disease
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Your doctor will monitor your health to make sure that you are ready for the heart transplant.
- Talk to your doctor about all medications you are taking. You may be asked to stop taking some medications before surgery.
- Do not take over-the-counter medication without checking with your doctor.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
- Arrange for help at home after the surgery.
- Eat a light meal the night before the surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- Physical exam
- Cardiac catheterization
- Echocardiogram—to examine the size, shape, and motion of your heart
- Identify your blood and tissue type
- Tests to exclude diseases in other organ systems that may prevent you from receiving a transplant
Description of the Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
- Heart monitor
- Pacing wires used to help the heart beat normally
- Tubes connected to a machine that helps drain excess blood and air
- Breathing tube, until you can breathe on your own
- Medications to support heart function
- An IV
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Breathe deeply and cough 10-20 times every hour.
- Take immunosuppressive drugs—You will likely need to take these for the rest of your life. These drugs reduce the chance that your body will reject the new heart.
- Take measures to prevent blood clots, such as wearing compression stockings
- Have blood tests
- Have persistent fever
- Have poor heart function
- Do not feel well
- Return as prescribed by your transplant cardiologist for follow up biopsies.
- Work with a physical therapist. Keep in mind that your new heart will respond slowly to increases in physical activity.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Changes in sensation, movement, or circulation in your arms or legs
- Changes in the location, type, or severity of pain
- Chest pain, pressure, or a return of your previous heart pain
- Fast or irregular heart rate
- Pain that does not improve with the medications you were given
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Coughing up blood
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Sudden headache or feeling faint
- Waking up at night due to being short of breath
- Excessive tiredness, swelling of feet
- Pain, burning, urgency, frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients http://www.srtr.org
Transplant Living http://www.transplantliving.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca
Explore heart transplant. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ht. Updated January 3, 2012. Accessed September 30, 2014.
Heart transplant. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/CareTreatmentforCongenitalHeartDefects/Heart-Transplant%5FUCM%5F307731%5FArticle.jsp. Updated September 9, 2014. Accessed September 30, 2014.
- Reviewer: Donald Buck, MD
- Review Date: 09/2015 -
- Update Date: 09/30/2014 -