Background. Advanced age is viewed by some transplant centers as a contraindication for heart transplantation secondary to concerns regarding decreased survival. Methods. Between January 1992 and June 2002, 63 of 881 (7.2%) orthotopic heart transplants were performed in patients above 65 years. These patients were compared to 63 recipients below age 65 who were matched for sex, etiology of heart failure, United Network for Organ Sharing status, and immunosuppression therapy era. Results. Mean age was 67.1 ± 2.3 years (range, 65.0 to 74.8) for the older group and 48.1 ± 14.5 years (range, 18.3 to 64.4) for the younger group (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in the incidence of diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or peripheral vascular disease between the groups (p = not significant) although there were more patients with prior myocardial infarctions in the older group (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in overall survival between the groups, with 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year actuarial survival of 85.8%, 80.3%, 73.1%, and 49.9% for the older group; and 86.9%, 83.4%, 75.0%, and 57.0% for the younger group (p = 0.597). Postoperative intensive care unit stay and overall hospital stay were similar for the two groups (p = not significant). There was no significant difference between the groups in freedom from infection or rejection at 1, 3, or 5 years after transplant (p = not significant) although the incidence of transplant coronary artery disease was higher in the older group (p = 0.025). Conclusions. These data demonstrate similar short-term and long-term results for elderly and young recipients undergoing cardiac transplantation. This supports proceeding with transplantation in carefully selected elderly patients.
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