Warning signs after a heart transplant

What to watch out for after a heart transplant and when to seek medical advice

Key points

  • Issues you might experience include infection, acute rejection and cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV)
  • Problems are sometimes detected through blood tests and heart biopsies at your clinic appointments
  • Make sure you attend all your scheduled appointments so your transplant team can monitor your progress

When to seek medical advice:

Please contact your transplant team if you experience any of the following:

  • A high temperature of 38C or above
  • Feeling hot and shivery
  • Severe headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • New chest pain
  • Fatigue or generally feeling ‘rough’

Make sure you attend all your clinic appointments

Often early signs of heart rejection are picked up through blood tests at your regular clinic visits. This is why it’s so important to attend all your appointments.


Rejection is your body’s response to having a transplanted heart. The immunosuppressant medicines will help to stop you rejecting the organ. But many transplant patients still experience rejection. This is usually mild and can be treated with different medications.

Learn more about rejection


Infections are very common immediately after surgery. Infections can also occur in the months or years after a heart transplant. This is partly due to the immunosuppressant medications that lower your immune system. Chest and urinary infections are the most common infections and can be treated with antibiotics and antivirals. Serious infections are rare.

Learn more about infections

Cardiac allograft vasculopathy

Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) is a condition that affects transplanted hearts. It causes the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart muscle itself to become narrowed and eventually blocked. It is a result of your immune system affecting the transplanted heart but other factors like a high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking can contribute.

Learn more about cardiac allograft vasculopathy

More information

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