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Heart Transplant Life Expectancy

Heart Transplant Life Expectancy

What You Should Know about a Heart Transplant and Heart Transplant Life Expectancy

How Is a Heart Transplant Performed?

For a person experiencing end-stage heart disease, a heart transplant can drastically improve life expectancy as well as the quality of his or her life.

During the transplant, the patient’s blood is circulated artificially by a mechanical pump while the diseased heart is replaced with the heart of the donor. A mechanism is connected to the patient’s new heart to temporarily regulate the heartbeat during healing.

Who Gets a Heart Transplant?

Because of donor scarcity, the gift of a new heart can only be considered for people who are not expected to survive for more than a year without a transplant. Candidates for a new heart usually have end-stage heart disease, do not have other life-threatening conditions, and have not had success with conventional therapy.

An artificial heart can be used to extend the life expectancy of a patient while he or she waits for a donor heart to become available. Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, recently became the first in western Pennsylvania to replace a patient’s heart with a SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. AGH is also participating in the clinical trial of a new device to make temporary artificial heart replacement recipients able to leave the hospital while they wait for a donor heart transplant. AHG is one of only 30 U.S. medical centers involved in the trial. For more information, you can review our heart transplant experts, including our thoracic and cardiac surgeons.

What Is the Heart Transplant Life Expectancy?

In 2009, according to the American Heart Association, heart transplant life expectancy rates reflected a considerable benefit to recipients.

  • 1-year survival rate for heart transplant recipients
    • 88 percent for men
    • 77.2 percent for women
  • 5-year survival rate for heart transplant recipients
    • 73.1 percent for men
    • 67.4 percent for women

What Affects Heart Transplant Life Expectancy?

For someone receiving a heart transplant, life expectancy can be affected by the recipient’s age, sex, and adherence to doctor recommendations.

What Are the Risks of a Heart Transplant?

On average, close to 95 percent of heart transplants are successful, but like any major medical procedure, there are risks. Heart transplant recipients need to take medication to suppress their immune systems, because the immune system treats a new organ as a potential threat. These drugs can increase a person’s risk of infection, and the patient needs to be regularly monitored for signs that his or her body is rejecting the heart.

For a person receiving a new heart, these risks are outweighed by the benefits. Heart transplant life expectancy is increasing with more advanced medical techniques, and for someone with end-stage heart disease, a new heart can mean a new life. You can learn more about the history of heart transplantation by reading Heart Transplant History: The First Successful Transplant.