Heart transplant survival: Results may be key to rejection prevention, detection, treatment

Research to be presented at the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) 24th Annual Meeting April 21-24 in San Francisco, points to major victories in the battle for immune system balance in heart transplant patients.

"The combination of emerging technologies and drugs could mean greatly improved patient management and longer survival rates," said Mandeep Mehra, M.D., Program Chair of ISHLT and an ISHLT director. "The results of these studies have been much anticipated by the transplant community."

Some of the late-breaking trial results to be revealed include:

  • Use of intravascular ultrasound as a predictor for long-term heart transplant outcomes Data from a five-year multi-center validation study (Abstract #27)
  • Immunosuppressant drug everolimus used to prevent acute cardiac disease and rejection 24-month study results (Abstract #28)
  • Using molecular testing to predict clinical outcomes for heart transplantation Outcomes of a prospective multi-center trial (Abstract #192)
  • Protection from transplant disease (graft vasculopathy) with use of sirolimus from time of heart transplantation Results from a two-year study (Abstract #193)

Worldwide, approximately 4,500 cardiac transplants are performed annually. Despite significant progress made in surgical techniques and post-operative care, the risks associated with cardiac surgery remain high. The one-year survival rate after transplantation is approximately 80 percent; this number drops to nearly 50 percent after 10 years. The leading cause of death during the first three years is acute rejection of the transplanted organ. The patient's immune system attacks the heart as if it were a foreign object until it no longer functions properly.

Another contributing factor to limited survival rates is cardiac allograft vasculopathy (transplant vessel damage). This thickening of artery walls in a transplanted heart

Contact: Kelly Goff
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

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