Background. The continual shortage of hearts for transplantation (HTx) led to the expansion of the donor pool by accepting older donors. We compared the medium-term follow-up of patients after HTx with older hearts (over the age of 63 years) with those of patients after HTx with younger hearts. Patients and Methods. Since April 1994 we have used hearts for HTx from donors older than the age of 63 years. Until November 1998, 309 HTx and 9 re-HTx were performed in 309 adults with a mean age of 50.7±10.9 years (range 17-68 years). There were 252 men and 57 women. The patients were divided into two groups: group I-donor age under 63 years (296 patients, mean age 50.4±11 years; mean donor age 38.1±13 years; mean follow-up 1.7±1.6 years); group II-donor age of more than 63 years (13 patients, mean age 57.4±5.6 years; mean donor age 65.1±2.1; mean follow-up 2.2±1.6 years). There were no differences in the etiology of heart failure, gender, or ischemia time between the groups. The patients in group II were significantly older (P=0.008). Multiple factors were analyzed in the groups, which included changes in the left/right ventricle ejection fraction, early postoperative mortality (up to 30 days), cumulative survival rates and cardiac- dependent morbidity [myocardial infarction, malignant arrhythmias, coronary stenosis (>50% in one of the main coronary arteries) and transplant vasculopathy]. Additionally, freedom from cytomegalovirus infection (rise of titer or seroconversion) and freedom of acute rejection episodes grade ≥2 (International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation [ISHLT]) were analyzed. Results. After 1 year mean left and right ventricle ejection fraction were good in both groups and did not significantly change for up to 2 years. No Re-HTx was performed in group II. The early postoperative mortality was similar in both groups (P=0.8). Also, the cumulative survival rates were similar in both groups (P=0.87). Long-term cardiac morbidity was lower in group I (P=0.03). The long-term freedom from cytomegalovirus infection in group I was significantly higher when compared with group II (P=0.0002). The long-term freedom from severe rejection episodes was similar in both groups (P=0.3). Conclusion. The study found a significant increase in long-term cardiac morbidity due to more focal coronary stenosis in group II, and freedom from cytomegalovirus infection, but did not find significant differences in the long-term survival between patients who received hearts from donors of up to 63 years of age and from those more than 63 years. The acceptance of donors older than 63 years old for HTx does not worsen the outcome of the recipients. The careful selection of older donors, with close monitoring of the coronary situation after HTx and expanded indications for revascularization of older hearts, could make HTx with older hearts, even in older recipients, a safe option.
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