Long-term outcomes after cardiac transplantation: An experience based on different eras of immunosuppressive therapy

Ranjit John, Hiranya A. Rajasinghe, Jonathan M. Chen, Alan D. Weinberg, Prashant Sinha, Donna M. Mancini, Yoshifumi Naka, Mehmet C. Oz, Craig R. Smith, Eric A. Rose, Niloo M. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Background. Constantly changing practices in heart transplantation have improved posttransplant survival in patients with end-stage heart disease. The objective of this study was to evaluate long-term outcomes in different eras of immunosuppressive therapy after cardiac transplantation at a single center during a two-decade period. Methods. A retrospective review of 1,086 consecutive cardiac allograft recipients who underwent transplantation between 1977 to 1999 was performed. Patients were divided into four eras based on type of immunosuppressive therapy: era 1 = steroids, azathioprine (n = 26, February 1977 to March 1983), era II = steroids, cyclosporine (n = 43, April 1983 to April 1985), era III = cyclosporine, steroids, azathioprine (n = 752, April 1985 to December 1995), era IV = cyclosporine, steroids, mycophenolate mofetil (n = 315, January 1996 to October 1999). Results. The actuarial survival of the entire cohort of 1,086 patients undergoing cardiac transplantation was 79%, 66%, and 49% at 1, 5, and 10 years, respectively. There were significant trends in recipient age and gender distribution among the four eras with increasing proportion of older age (> 60 years) and female recipients in eras III and IV (p = 0.001 and 0.02). Early mortality and long-term survival improved significantly over all eras (p < 0.001). Rejection as a cause of death decreased over time (era I, 24%; era II, 21%; era III, 15%; era IV, 9%; p = 0.02), whereas the contribution of transplant coronary artery disease as a cause of death remained unchanged. Conclusions. Cardiac transplantation provides satisfactory long-term survival for patients with end-stage heart failure. The improving outcomes in survival correlate with improved immunosuppressive therapy in each era. Although the reasons for improvement in survival over time are multifactorial, we believe that changes in immunosuppressive therapy have had a major impact on survival as evidenced by the decreasing number of deaths due to rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-449
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


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