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How Will My Life Change?

Organ Rejection

You must always be alert to signs of rejection. The sooner you report these symptoms to your transplant cardiologist, the better your chances of getting through the rejection episode. Signs of rejection include:

Ongoing Tests

Heart biopsies will done on a regular basis to check for organ rejection. A common heart biopsy schedule for a heart recipient is:

  1. Once per week - for 4 weeks
  2. Once every 2 weeks - for 8 weeks
  3. Once a month - for 3 months
  4. Once every 2 months - for 6 months
  5. Once every 6 months afterward

Clinic visits You will probably visit the clinic twice a week for the first month after discharge from the hospital. In the second month, you will visit them once a week. As soon as possible after that, your visits will be reduced to once every other week, then once a month, then every other month. You will have blood tests, chest x-rays, echocardiograms and heart biopsies.

Heart cath Once a year you'll have a heart catheterization to check for transplant coronary artery disease.

Self-monitoring You will continue to record your weight, body temperature, pulse and blood pressure every day for the rest of your life. This, along with the regular clinic visits and diagnostic tests, will help spot problems in the usual post-transplant areas:

Controlling Your Diet

Blood sugar Prednisone and tacrolimus raise your blood sugar (glucose) level. This means you need to avoid eating a lot of sweets or fruit. You also should watch and record your weight very carefully, being aware of any trend toward gaining weight. Getting fat will drastically raise your chances of developing dangerously high blood pressure and coronary artery disease).

Fat As well as sugar intake, you must control your fat intake. CAD, also called atherosclerosis, is seen in all heart transplant patients. No one knows exactly why. If you live long enough, you will most likely need another heart transplant down the road due to CAD. Although new research shows that mono-unsaturated fat may actually be good for your heart, currently the view is still to restrict your fat intake. Your goal is to keep your blood cholesterol level down.

Sodium Prednisone causes you to retain sodium, causing edema, similar to that of congestive heart failure. A low-sodium diet will greatly help you cope with this. Boys and girls, this is no joke. You must obey these dietary restrictions or you may not live nearly as long, or as well. If you are unsure about some aspect of your diet, call your transplant clinic and ask to speak to a dietician. They'll set you up - be sure to take written notes and ask for any available pamphlets.

Activity Level

Your heart reacts differently to stress now. The nerves that connected your original heart to your nervous system were cut during the transplant surgery and do not heal. That means your heart cannot respond immediately to exercise, sudden movement, or emotional stress like fear. It does react, but not nearly as fast. Now, it increases its rate in response to hormones in your blood.

Material taken from manuals given to potential transplant recipients at transplant centers in the USA, and from heart transplant recipients - Updated May 10, 2002

All information on this site is opinion only. All concepts, explanations, trials, and studies have been re-written in plain English and may contain errors. I am not a doctor. Use the reference information at the end of each article to search MedLine for more complete and accurate information. All original copyrights apply. No information on this page should be used by any person to affect their medical, legal, educational, social, or psychological treatment in any way. I am not a doctor. This web site and all its pages, graphics, and content copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Jon C.

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