To use or not to use? Amiodarone before heart transplantation

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Amiodarone frequently is used in patients with heart failure. Concerns still exist about possible complications related to its lingering effect during and after heart transplantation.


We selected all consecutive patients who received a heart transplant at our institution between January 2004 and December 2015 (n = 220) and compared the peri- and postoperative outcomes of patients who were taking amiodarone for at least 120 days before heart transplant (n = 127) with patients who did not take amiodarone prior to heart transplant (n = 93).


Compared with patients with no amiodarone use prior to transplant, those who had used amiodarone were similar in age, body mass index, sex, cause of cardiomyopathy, prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, presence of defibrillator, and had similar donor ischemic times during transplant (all P > .05). Median operative time, aortic cross clamp time, mechanical ventilation and median hospital duration of stay did not differ between the 2 groups (P > .05). Patients exposed to amiodarone had fewer cellular rejections (5% vs 20%; P = .001) but more primary graft dysfunction (4% vs 0%; P = .025) and post-transplant pneumonia (P = .047) compared with patients not taking amiodarone prior to transplant. Both groups had similar rate of atrial fibrillation, 30-day readmission, and 30-day mortality (P > .05). Even though 1-year survival was not affected by amiodarone use (P = .51), long-term (5-year) survival was significantly less in patients exposed to amiodarone (P = .03).


Amiodarone use did not affect the incidence of atrial fibrillation nor 30-day and 1-year survival post-transplantation. Nevertheless, post-transplant pulmonary complications were significantly greater and 5-year survival was less among patients treated with amiodarone prior to transplant.

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