Benefits and risks of a heart transplant

How a heart transplant can help and problems that might occur

Key points

  • For carefully selected patients with advanced heart failure, a heart transplant provides the best quality of life and survival
  • Most people who have a heart transplant do well
  • However, not every patient feels better or lives longer after having a transplant
  • There can be serious risks from the surgery and the transplant medicines

What are the benefits?

In carefully selected patients, a heart transplant is usually the best treatment for heart failure in patients who are fit enough for the operation. 

Main advantages of a successful heart transplant:

  • Most heart transplant patients live longer
  • Most heart transplant patients enjoy a better quality of life
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved general well-being
  • Work and travel is easier

Learn about the benefits of heart transplants

What are the risks?

A heart transplant requires complex surgery and can cause problems for some patients.

Main complications of a heart transplant:

  • It is a major operation and comes with surgical risks, like bleeding
  • You will need to take powerful medicines to suppress your immune system
  • It is possible that the transplanted heart will not work well enough to maintain the circulation
  • There is a risk of dying afterwards, this is highest in the first few months 

Learn about the risks of heart transplants

Average survival statistics

The average patient survival after a heart transplant in the UK is 14 years.

However, life expectancy for patients after a heart transplant is very variable depending on age and other medical issues. 

85 in 100

Patients are alive one year after a heart transplant*

72 in 100

Patients are alive five years after a heart transplant*

More information

Discuss your options with your doctor

If you’re considering a heart transplant, your first step is to talk to your heart doctor. 

If you and your doctor agree a heart transplant may be a good treatment for you, they will arrange for you to have a series of tests.

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