Heart transplantation is a procedure where a heart is replaced from an ill patient and is transplanted with a “new” donor heart. During the surgery a special mechanical pump circulates blood via the body. The donor heart is connected to the main blood vessels and to the mechanism which is responsible for controlling the heartbeat during the surgery.
A heart transplant gives great chances to improve the life expectancy and life quality of a patient. Unfortunately, waiting lists are rather long and there’s a lack of donor organs. People can be candidates for transplant if they are at the end-stage of heart disease, and conventional therapy does not work for them. Those people who consider the transplant option are interested in success rate and heart transplant life expectancy.
Heart transplant life expectancy
There are several factors influencing life expectancy in patients after heart transplant. These include immunological donor match, age, patient compliance, and the year when transplantation was performed. According to the data from American Heart Association, 77.2% of females and 88% of men reached the one-year survival rate; 77.2% of women and 79.3% of men had the 3-year survival rate. The survival rate of 5 years was 67.4% for women and 73.1% for men. The data was provided in 2009. The Independent published a story about a 73-year-old American who had had a heart transplant and lived for 24 years more. Therefore, heart transplant life expectancy can be quite long like in the case described above.
Success rate for heart transplant
The success rate for heart transplant is determined by the risks before surgery. In general, the success rate reaches 95% in most cases. Patients above 60 years old are at higher risks. Other risk factors include previous heart transplantation, high panel of reactive antibody, if a patient is on a ventilator, experiences high pressures in the blood vessels of lungs. Even with such risk factors the chances of success often reach 95%, especially on the initial stages. In fact, the first thirty days are most important and if a person survives through this period, there is about 90% chance that the patient will live for a year at minimum.
Heart transplant risks
The immunity is responsible for protecting the body from harmful substances. A ‘new’ organ would trigger an immune reaction, which can lead to the tissue destruction. To prevent this, a patient should use immuno-suppressive medications. The main risk in heart transplant is donor heart rejection by the body. A heart biopsy is tested every 3-4 months after the surgery. Other tests are also required to check the “new” organ for rejection. These include an echocardiography, some blood tests and electrocardiography.
Immuno-suppressant drugs may produce side effects, such as increased risk of cancer and infections. Steroids can have adverse effects in the form of ulcers, bone loss and infections.
Heart transplant is the last option considered only if other treatment options have failed. The surgery is very complicated but it offers hope for many people. Heart transplant life expectancy is often long and patients receive an opportunity to live a life of better quality.