Diane K. Dressler, RN, MSN, CCRN, CCTC


June 17, 2002


Cardiac transplantation has been a treatment option for selected patients with end-stage heart disease since the late 1960s. Initially the procedure was considered radical, experimental, and controversial. With advances in immunosuppressive drug therapy, improved techniques to detect and treat rejection, and improved methods of treating short- and long-term complications, outcomes improved and the procedure gained acceptance.[1] The objectives of this chapter are to:

  • Describe the current status of heart transplantation

  • List underlying diseases and conditions that may result in the need for heart transplantation

  • Identify patient populations who may benefit from heart transplantation

  • Outline key steps in the evaluation of patients for heart transplantation

  • Summarize current recommendations for immunosuppression

  • List the most common postoperative complications of heart transplantation

  • Discuss recent advances in treatment and management of heart transplant recipients.