Status of patients presently living 9 to 13 years after orthotopic heart transplantation

Roland Hetzer, Wolfgang Albert, Manfred Hummel, Miralem Pasic, Matthias Loebe, Henning Warnecke, Axel Haverich, Hans Georg Borst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background. Heart transplantation has a dramatic impact on both life expectancy and quality of life in patients with terminal heart failure. The aim of the study was to evaluate psychologic, social, occupational, and somatic status of patients living long-term, 9 to 13 years after orthotopic heart transplantation. Patients and Methods. Seventy-seven of 182 patients who received transplants between July 1983 and January 1988 in Hannover (1983-1985; n = 69 patients) and Berlin (1986-1988; n = 113 patients) have survived up to now, 9 to 13 years after transplantation (mean, 10 years 4 months). The patients and their medical records (eg, cardiac catheter studies, echocardiography) were examined to assess their somatic status. Psychologic, social, and occupational status and quality of life data were assessed by combination of self-rating questionnaires (the Short Form Health Survey Questionnaire, Giessener Beschwerdebogen [the Giessen Subjective Complaints List], the Sickness Impact Profile, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and semistructured interviews. Results. Ninety-one percent of the patients were in New York Heart Association functional class I (70%) or II (21%). The results of the psychologic investigation revealed a definite impact of the side effects of chronic immunosuppression; however, overall, the quality of life rating was within the normal range. Sixty-seven (86%) patients were married, 51 (66%) patients were retired, 17 (22%) worked full- time or part-time, and 9 (12%) were housewife or houseman. Four male patients have fathered five healthy children 1 to 10 years after the transplantation. More than 75% of the patients had normal systolic ventricular function (mean left ventricular ejection fraction, 0.63). Coronary angiograms were normal or with minor wall irregularities in 86% (n = 66 patients), and revealed severe obstructions in 14% (n = 11). Normal function of all valves was found in one- third of the patients, tricuspid valve incompetence was not found or was insignificant in 87% (n = 67 patients) and severe in 8% (n = 10). Six patients had undergone tricuspid valve replacement, invariably for structural valve defects attributable to biopsy injuries. Fifty-eight patients (75%) exhibited various degrees of compensated renal insufficiency, 7 of them were on chronic hemodialysis, and 2 patients have undergone kidney transplantation. Hepatic function was normal in 68% (n = 52) of the patients, and 1 patient has developed liver cirrhosis. Osteoporosis was diagnosed of the discrete form in 7 (9%) and of a significant degree in 24 patients (31%); 38.5% (n = 30) complained of symptoms of polyneuropathy. Conclusions. The patients surviving 9 to 13 years after orthotopic heart transplantation are mostly in good physical status, the quality of life is comparable to the general population, and only a few of them have significantly limited in their life style. They do show the substantial chronic side effects of long- term immunosuppression, remaining treatment-dependent for a lifetime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1661-1668
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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