Young heart transplant patients living longer
A new study reveals that infants and children who receive heart transplants have better outcomes after surgery and can expect to live past 15 years with good cardiac function and quality of life.
Researchers examined medical charts of nearly 350 pediatric heart transplant patients who received transplants since 1985. Of the patients in the study, which was released at the 50th Annual Meeting of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, 54.3 percent survived at least 15 years past surgery.
Of those 15-year survivors, 82.5 percent showed good heart function at the most recent follow-up.
“The average adult survival rate following heart transplantation currently is 10 years,” said study co-author Dr. Hannah Copeland in a statement. “We studied survival rates beyond 15 years for pediatric heart transplant patients to learn more about quality of life and factors that led to improved survival,” said Dr. Copeland, a thoracic surgery fellow at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California.
The main factors that prevent long-term survival among pediatric heart transplant patients, according to researchers, were graft vasculopathy (an accelerated form of coronary artery disease that narrows the transplanted heart’s blood vessels) and complications related to the kidney.
“While major challenges still exist for long-term survival in kids, close surveillance, lifelong monitoring, and with advances in immunosuppression medications, the lifespan of the patient can be prolonged,” said Dr. Copeland.
“Pediatric heart transplant is not a cure, but a chance at life,” she added.
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