Heart transplant prolongs the life of a patient who otherwise would die. About 80% of heart transplants are alive two years after the operation. The main problem, as with other transplants, is graft rejection. If rejection can be controlled, then survival can be increased up to 10 years or more. Immunosuppressive drugs must be taken indefinitely. Relatively normal activities can resume as soon as the patient feels well enough and after consulting with his or her doctor. However, vigorous physical activities should be avoided.
The major problems are the same all major organ transplants face:
- a shortage of donor hearts
- rejection of the transplanted heart
- cost of the surgery and post-operative care, including immunosuppressive drugs
Update Date 4/13/2015
Updated by: Dale Mueller, MD, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, HeartCare Midwest; Chairman Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, OSF St. Francis Medical Center; and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois, Peoria, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.