Researchers Present New Findings at International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation Scientific Meeting in Chicago

Heart Transplantation Tipsheet

Los Angeles - April 26, 2010 - Physician scientists at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute presented new findings on heart transplantation rejection factors such as race and gender, the effects of pre-transplant smoking and whether homeless organ donors put recipients at higher risk for complications. The presentations took place April 21 – 24 in Chicago during the 30th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

“The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Scientific Sessions bring together the world’s experts in these fields which also includes basic science and mechanical circulatory assist devices,” said Jon Kobashigawa, M.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute heart transplant program. “This important dialogue and exchange of valuable information will lead to improved survival and quality of life of our patients.” 

An associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Kobashigawa is a past president of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. His research has resulted in groundbreaking medical protocols, such as customized anti-rejection medications for transplant patients. 

Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute researchers made more than 30 presentations during the meeting, including: 

  • A review of 520 first-time heart transplant patients showed no significant difference survival rates based on age. Although patients 70 or older were more likely to have coronary artery disease and prior coronary bypass surgery, 10-year survival rates were equal to younger transplant patients. Older patients did have lower rates of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity and smoking compared to the younger patients.
  • Transplant patients who receive hearts from organ donors who were homeless are at increased risk for complications and poor outcomes. Although homelessness is not included in the Centers for Disease Control criteria for high-risk organ donation, half the patients who received hearts from homeless organ donors died within the first year of transplantation. Researchers believe that homelessness leads to poor hygiene and increased susceptibility to infections, which can affect organ recipients. Further study is needed to confirm whether homelessness should be added to the high-risk organ donation category.
  • Patients who smoked prior to receiving a heart transplant experienced worse outcomes than patients who never smoked. Following transplant, 10 percent of patients who formerly smoked experienced non-fatal, major adverse cardiac events, such as a stroke or heart failure, compared to just 4 percent of transplant patients who never smoked.
  • After reviewing 10-year survival and outcomes of 574 transplant patients, researchers found no difference in outcome for patients who received a heart from a donor of a different race.
  • Transplant patients who receive donor hearts from the opposite gender typically have worse outcomes than patients who receive a heart from the same gender. Males who received hearts from males had a 69 percent survival rate 10 years after transplant, compared to 59 percent 10 year survival rate for males who received hearts from females. Females who received hearts from females had a 71 percent survival rate, compared to 58 percent for females who received hearts from males.

The Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is internationally recognized for outstanding heart care built on decades of innovation and leading-edge research. From cardiac imaging and advanced diagnostics to surgical repair of complex heart problems to the training of the heart specialists of tomorrow and research that is deepening medical knowledge and practice, the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is known around the world for excellence and innovations.