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Daniel A. Daneshvar, Lawrence S.C. Czer, Anita Phan, Alfredo Trento, Ernst R. Schwarz
Ann Transplant 2010; 15(4): 110-119
Within the last forty years, heart transplantation as the ultimate option for the treatment of end-stage heart disease has undergone dramatic changes and advances in operative techniques, postoperative care, immunosuppression, and rejection management which resulted in reduced morbidity and mortality. As the heart failure epidemic worsens and the population grows older, cardiac transplantation criteria have expanded for end-stage heart disease refractory to medical management. Although outcomes after cardiac transplantation have improved, the critical organ shortage is a limitation to its efficacy. The demand-supply disparity for heart transplantations has led to clinical and ethical issues examining adequate candidacy for organ transplantation. Cardiac transplantation in the elderly recipient was considered a contraindication due to poor survival rates compared to younger recipients. Given the increase in life expectancy over the last decades, single-center studies have assessed the outcome of transplantation among elderly recipients and comparable survival and quality of life have been described among older heart transplantation recipients. Alternatives to cardiac transplantation which have become more common, such as mechanical circulatory support, and further investigation of the viability of transplantation in the elderly may help determine the proper allocation of the limited organ supply.