A heart transplant is surgery to remove a person’s diseased heart and replace it with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. Most heart transplants are done on patients who have end-stage heart failure that might have been caused by:
- Coronary heart disease.
- Hereditary conditions.
- Viral infections of the heart.
- Damaged heart valves and muscles. (Alcohol, pregnancy, and certain medicines can damage the heart valves and muscles.)
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is damaged or weak. As a result, it can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. “End-stage” means the condition is so severe that all treatments, other than a heart transplant, have failed.
Heart transplants are done as a life-saving measure for end-stage heart failure.
Survival rates for people receiving heart transplants have improved dramatically, especially in the first year after the transplant.
After the surgery, most heart transplant patients can return to their normal levels of activity. Heart transplant surgery is done in a hospital when a suitable donor heart is found. After the transplant, the patient is started on a lifelong health care plan. The plan involves multiple medicines and frequent medical checkups.