Causes of graft loss and death were studied in 1347 recipients of primary renal transplants followed for 5 years after transplantation irrespective of graft function. Immunosuppression consisted of high or medium dose CsA and prednisolone or low dose CsA and prednisolone and azathioprine.
In recipients of cadaver grafts, death with a functioning transplant was more common than graft rejection after the first posttransplant year, accounting for 49% and 41% of the graft losses, respectively. Of deaths with a functioning graft, 53% were due to ischemic heart disease (IHD) and 10% were due to other vascular disease. In the 55− to 64-year-old age group, the risk of death from IHD was 6.4 times higher in the transplanted nondiabetic patients, 8.6 times higher in the dialysis patients (European Dialysis and Transplant Association figures), and 20.8 times higher in the transplanted diabetic patients than in the general population (national figures). A multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that old age, diabetes mellitus, occurrence of acute rejection, pretransplant transfusions, delayed onset of graft function, and male gender were significant for death in IHD.
We conclude that, in comparison to reports from other regions, Scandinavian renal transplant recipients are at high risk of dying of HID. Future advances in long-term renal graft survival will depend largely on the success of preventing myocardial infarction and death in this patient population.