A primer for managing cardiac transplant patients in the emergency department setting

Brit Long, William J. Brady, Alin Gragossian, Alex Koyfman, Michael Gottlieb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Cardiac transplant is an effective long-term management option for several severe cardiac diseases. These cardiac transplant patients may present to the emergency department with a range of issues involving the cardiac transplantation, including complications due to their transplant as well as altered presentations of disease resulting from their transplant. Objective: This narrative review provides a focused guide to the evaluation and management of patients with cardiac transplantation and its complications. Discussion: Cardiac transplant is an effective therapy for end-stage heart failure. A transplanted heart varies both anatomically and physiologically from a native heart. Several significant complications may occur. Graft failure, rejection, and infection are common causes of morbidity and mortality within the first year of transplant. As these patients are on significant immunosuppressive medication regimens, they are at risk of infection, but inadequate immunosuppression increases the risk of acute rejection. A variety of dysrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and ventricular dysrhythmias may occur. These patients are also at risk of acute coronary syndrome, cardiac allograft vasculopathy, and medication adverse events. Importantly, patients with acute coronary syndrome can have an altered presentation with the so-called “painless” myocardial infarction. Consultation with the transplant physician is recommended, if available, for these patients to assist in evaluation and management. Conclusions: An understanding of the presentations and various complications that may affect patients with cardiac transplant will assist emergency clinicians in the care of these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Volume41
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Arrhythmia
  • Cardiac
  • Immunosuppression
  • Infection
  • Rejection
  • Transplant
  • Vasculopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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