Heart Transplant FAQ

What conditions lead to the need for a heart transplant?

Most people who become candidates for a heart transplant have severe heart failure from one of several causes.

One group is patients who have ischemic cardiomyopathy. They may have had multiple heart attacks or they may have had coronary bypass surgery and no longer have any vessels to use for a bypass procedure. They may not be able to undergo further stent procedures, and their heart is failing.

Another group is patients with idiopathic cardiomyopathy. These people, who tend to be younger, have heart failure and the cause is unknown.

A third group of potential transplant patients is also emerging. These are people who have congenital heart disease that was either repaired when they were children or was never repaired. Now their hearts are starting to fail, and transplant may become an option.

Do I have any other treatment options besides transplantation?

There are a variety of treatment options available, but there is no one solution for every patient. Before considering transplantation, other treatments generally have been exhausted. While some organ transplants may be considered life-enhancing, a heart transplant is normally undertaken as a lifesaving procedure.

Can I be a candidate for transplantation?

Transplantation is a complicated procedure and determining who is a good candidate depends on many factors. It can depend on the severity of your heart failure; whether you suffer from coronary disease, valve disease or some other disease, your overall health and other concerns.

Am I too old for a heart transplant?

While patients over age 70 are generally less likely to receive a transplant, that is not an absolute standard. Age is one of many factors considered.

Will other medical problems eliminate me from consideration?

A patient’s overall health is key to deciding if he or she is a good candidate for a transplant. Other diseases that could limit your longevity or your ability to recover might disqualify you from becoming a transplant candidate. For example, patients who have had cancer in the past five years are unlikely to receive a transplant.