Newark Beth Israel Medical Center Heart Transplant Survival/Life Expectancy

A heart transplant is considered the gold standard treatment option for end-stage heart failure. It is only recommended when conservative treatment options fail. The worldwide heart transplant survival rate is greater than 85 percent after one year and 69 percent after 5 years for adults, which is excellent when compared to the natural course of end-stage heart failure.

The first year after surgery is the most important in regards to heart transplant survival rate. The annual death rate after the first year is only 4 percent. Recent improvements to the heart transplant survival rate can be attributed to an increased rate of survival after the first year, and specifically to improvements seen with immunosuppressant medications.

Immunosuppressant medications suppress the immune system, thereby decreasing its ability to attack foreign invaders. These medications are given to heart transplant patients to prevent the immune system from attacking the new donor heart. Immunosuppressant therapy is now tailored to the individual patient.

Possible Complications

Heart transplant life expectancy depends on many factors, including post-surgery complications. Newark Beth Israel heart transplant patients can expect a tireless effort to decrease possible complications as much as possible, the most common of which being:

  • Chronic allograft vasculopathy (CAV).An accelerated type of coronary artery disease. The blood vessels of the heart shrink and harden, reducing blood flow and possibly damaging the heart muscle.
  • Malignancies.Cancer after a heart transplant. Skin cancers and posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder are most common in adults, lymphoma is most common in children.
  • Infection. Infection risk is highest while the patient is on immunosuppressant medications. Heart rate life expectancy dramatically increases after immunosuppressant medication dose is lowered, usually 1 year after surgery.
  • Acute rejection. The immune system attacks the new donor heart. This most often occurs within the first 6 months after surgery.
  • Renal insufficiency.Poor blood flow to the kidneys decreases their ability to function properly. A possible side effect of immunosuppressant medications.

Setting complications aside, Newark Beth Israel heart transplant enables most patients to return to a normal life— the majority of patients can resume all normal daily activities and live with minimal to no symptoms.

Life after a heart transplant

Heart transplant patients can take control of their recovery and heart transplant life expectancy. Again, the first year after surgery is the most important. Patients are asked to attend appointments during recovery to track their progress and monitor possible heart transplant rejection. Biopsies and laboratory work are ordered and symptoms are monitored for signs of rejection. Newark Beth Israel heart transplant patients receive guidance, support, and advice in regards to:

  • Taking immunosuppressants. Taking these medications properly increases heart transplant life expectancy. The immune system is less likely to attack the new donor heart.
  • Taking other medications. Medications are given to improve heart and overall health.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation.Exercise and education aid in recovery and improve overall health.
  • Lifestyle modifications. Healthy changes increase survival rates and improve quality of life.

Most patients have concerns about sexual activity after a heart transplant. In general, sexual intercourse may be resumed approximately 12 weeks after surgery once the incision is healed.

Women who would like to get pregnant after a heart transplant should have a thorough discussion with everyone involved in their care to assess potential risks. Every patient has different needs based on age and health history.

A heart transplant, immunosuppressants, and other medications do not affect fertility. Patients are encouraged to regularly attend appointments with their obstetrician and gynecologist provider to discuss birth control options. Newark Beth Israel heart transplant patients who wish to get pregnant after their transplant receive complete support.




Patient Stories

  • “I’m looking to get back not just to 100 percent,” Bernard says, “but 200 percent, where I come back stronger than ever.”

    Bernard
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  • “I know I’m meant to be here for my son. And if my going through this would save a family member, I’d do it all over again.”

    Brittany
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  • “When I first got out of the hospital, I couldn’t even lift a gallon of milk. Now, I’m walking, doing yoga and playing in my band”

    Douglas
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