Heart Transplant Complications
As a patient who is undergoing a heart transplant, you may be worried about potential complications. The two major complications following a transplant procedure are rejection and infection. Following a heart transplant, patients will need to find a balance between fighting rejection and infection. Learn about both of these complications below.
The body's immune system protects it from foreign substances such as bacteria, fungus and viruses that can cause infection. The newly transplanted organ is recognized as a foreign substance and the immune system tries to fight off this intruder. When the immune system attempts to fight this intruder, it is called rejection.
Immunosuppression medications are used to fool the body and prevent the immune system from attacking and damaging the new organ. Often times if side effects of the immunosuppression medications are experienced your physician might change the dosing of the medication or prescribe a different one all together so make you take note of problems you have while taking the rejection medications.
Rejection most commonly occurs within the first six months following the transplant, however it can occur at any time, especially if medications are not taken correctly. For this reason, it is vital to make frequent visits to the Transplant Clinic.
Patients will be educated on the signs and symptoms of transplant rejection during the discharge planning/education process.
Transplant recipients are more susceptible to infections because they have lowered or suppressed immune systems.
Infections commonly seen include viruses, fungal and bacterial infections. The transplant team will provide education regarding protection against post-transplant infection as well as the signs and symptoms of infection.
For more information, read our heart and vascular frequently asked questions (FAQs) now.