Effect of Heart Transplantation on Survival in Ambulatory and Decompensated Heart Failure

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In the absence of randomized trials comparing heart transplantation (HTx) with medical therapy for the treatment of advanced heart failure (HF), the role of HTx remains uncertain. Using data from a national audit, we examined the effect of HTx on HF mortality in the Unite Kingdom.


Two thousand two hundred nineteen adults listed for HTx from April 1995 to October 2003 and followed to June 2007 were analyzed. In a substudy of 627 patients from two centers, ambulatory patients were risk-stratified by the heart failure survival score. A time-dependent nonproportional hazards model was used to estimate the effect of HTx.


Fourteen percent of patients were nonambulatory at listing. Death while waiting was higher among nonambulatory patients (19% vs. 14% in the ambulatory group, P<0.001 with 76% vs. 71% being transplanted). Posttransplant survival to 3 years was 78% and 75% in nonambulatory and ambulatory groups, respectively (P=0.68). HTx was found to benefit all groups. For nonambulatory patients, the risk of dying after HTx fell below the risk of dying while waiting after 10 days (95% CI 2–18) with a net survival benefit after 26 days (95% CI 5–53); for the ambulatory group the estimates were 42 days (95% CI 36–47) and 274 days (95% CI 214–359), respectively. In the substudy cohort net survival benefit was seen after 20, 124, 291, and 729 days for the nonambulatory, high, moderate, and low heart failure survival score risk groups, respectively.


HTx remains an effective treatment of advanced HF. Prioritization of patients with refractory HF is rational, because they are the first to benefit.

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