Need for cardiac implantable electronic devices and long-term follow-up in recipients of orthotopic heart transplants

Zain Gowani, Brett Tomashitis, Meg K. Ospina, Ashley Waring, Amanda Northup, Bhavadharini Ramu, Adrian Van Bakel, Mathew Gregoski, Julie Anderson, Michael R. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Cardiac pacemaker implantation after orthotopic heart transplantation declined dramatically after development of the bicaval anastomosis technique. However, much less is known about the rate, indications, and predictors of device implantation procedures with the current surgical technique. Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the indications, patient characteristics, incidence, and survival related to cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) implantation after heart transplantation. Methods: This was a single-center study of 399 consecutive adult recipients of orthotopic heart transplants with bicaval anastomosis from 1991 to 2017. The primary end point was freedom from pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implantation, and the secondary end point was all-cause mortality. Results: At the time of transplantation, the mean age of recipients was 50 ± 12 years and that of donors 31 ± 12 years. CIEDs were implanted in 8% of recipients (n = 31): 11 pacemakers (35%) for sinus node dysfunction, 17 (55%) for high-grade heart block, and 3 ICDs (10%) for the primary prevention of sudden cardiac death. Early CIED implantation (<30 days) was rare and absent for sinus node dysfunction. The risk for CIED implantation increased progressively during follow-up (0–30 years; median 11 years), with low-, moderate-, and high-risk periods between 0 and 10, between 10 and 20, and between 20 and 30 years, respectively. Recipients receiving CIEDs survived longer after transplantation (21 years vs 13 years; P < .01). Recipients receiving pacemakers for heart block were more likely to receive older donor hearts at the time of transplantation. Conclusion: The risk of pacemaker implantation increases progressively, while ICD implantation is rare. Donor age is the predominant risk factor for subsequent heart block. Early sinus node dysfunction requiring permanent pacing is rare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Heart Rhythm Society


  • Bradycardia
  • Cardiac implantable electronic device
  • Defibrillator
  • Heart block
  • Heart transplant
  • Pacemaker
  • Sinus node dysfunction

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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