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Heart and Lung Transplant (cont.)

Self-Care at Home

Heart and lung transplantations are very complicated procedures with many possible complications after you leave the hospital. Both you and your family must keep close contact with your primary care provider and your transplant team to increase your likelihood of recovery.

You can return to work or school, but you should resume normal activities gradually. The majority of patients who receive a heart or lung transplant unfortunately can never resume their previous work on a full-time basis due to the rigorous demands of postoperative monitoring.

You must make lifestyle changes to ensure that your new heart stays healthy. An organized rehabilitation program will help you make these changes.

  • You will be enrolled in an exercise program.
  • You will learn to choose foods that are healthy for your heart.
  • If you smoke, you will be given help to quit.
  • Routine evaluation of the kidney, liver, and other organs will be made to ensure that no side effects from drugs occur.

Proper dental care is essential, because you can get infections from oral bacteria and become very ill. You must take antibiotics before undergoing any dental procedures to prevent infection.

Rejection of a transplant is the most serious complication of a transplant. For this reason, you must keep a log of the following:

  • Temperature
  • Weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate and rhythm
  • Urine check for sugar and acetone
  • Stool check for unseen blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Sputum production
  • Urine output

Medical Treatment

Once you have received your new heart or lung, you will undergo many different tests at the transplant center.

  • Your blood pressure and lung function will be checked often for signs of organ rejection or side effects of medications.
  • You will be checked for new cancers, which can be related to the immune-suppressing drugs you take to fight rejection. Skin cancers are the most common in transplant individuals.
  • You will learn about healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your risk of future heart and lung disease.
  • Blood tests will be done to monitor for medication complications, signs of infection, or rejection.
  • You will undergo repeated cardiac biopsies and cardiac catheterizations to monitor for early signs of rejection and blocked coronary arteries.
  • Lung recipients will undergo lung function tests and bronchoscopy to monitor lung function and signs of rejection.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2014
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Heart-Lung Transplantation »

Cardiopulmonary transplantation (heart and lung transplantation) is the simultaneous surgical replacement of the heart and lungs in patients with end-stage cardiac and pulmonary disease.

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