Study finds heart transplant survival rates have improved in recent years

A 3D image of a heart

Over the past five years, researchers noticed two trends: More hearts were potentially available for heart transplant surgeries, and more patients were waiting for matching hearts. Now, a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found patients with hearts that came from donors who passed away from a drug overdose or who had hepatitis C had improved survival rates at 30 days and one year compared to patients who had a similar heart transplant a decade before.  
To conduct the research, the authors studied thousands of heart transplant surgeries conducted between 2003-2007, 2008-2012, and 2013-2017. In addition to finding increased survival rates among patients who had heart transplants from donors who had hepatitis C or died from an overdose, researchers also found survival rates for any type of heart transplant improved since 2003-2007. These trends were consistent despite a higher prevalence of heart transplants in recent years that came from donors who were older and had underlying conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes.  

The authors conclude increased acceptance and use of heart transplants from donors who had hepatitis C or who died from an overdose may help more people on heart transplant waiting lists. The research was supported by the NHLBI.