Longer-term risks of a heart transplant

This looks at possible risks that could occur in the months and years following a heart transplant

Key points

  • Your risk of some complications reduces over time but others may become apparent many years after a transplant.
  • Each patient is unique and long-term risks differ on a case-by-case basis
  • Staying as fit and healthy as you can will help reduce your risk of long-term complications

What happens in the months and years after a heart transplant?

In the first few months after a successful heart transplant, you will be recovering from surgery and getting used to your new medicines. Your physical strength will gradually recover and you will be attending the post-transplant clinic frequently.

The risk of acute rejection of the heart is highest in the first few months. After this time the dose of immunosuppressant medicines can gradually be decreased. The rate at which this occurs will vary from person to person.

What happens at your clinic visits?

You will have blood tests and heart biopsies. You may also have an echocardiogram (a heart scan) to assess how well your transplanted heart is working. Your weight and blood pressure will also be monitored. Depending on these results your medications will be altered.

How often will you visit the clinic?

The exact frequency will vary between patients and between centres.

What problems could occur over time?

As time goes by, the risk of some complications like rejection decrease. But there are some long-term risks that can occur in the months and years after your heart transplant.

This page looks at average longer-term risks, however every patient is different. Your transplant team will discuss your risks with you.

Very common longer-term risks

These affect more than 10 in 100 of patients

Common longer-term risks

These affect between 1 in 100 and 10 in 100 patients

Uncommon longer-term risks

These affect between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 100 patients

Other longer-term risks

All risks vary from patient to patient, but some risks change significantly on a case-by-case basis

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