Heart and Lung Transplant (cont.)
Exams and Tests
A number of factors help your health care provider determine whether you need a heart transplant and whether you are a candidate for the operation.
- A careful medical review of your medical and surgical history, other medical problems, medications, and lifestyle, followed by a thorough physical examination will help your health care provider determine how other medical conditions will affect survival of a new heart or lung.
- Laboratory tests, x-rays, and heart function tests, such as echocardiography and cardiac catheterization, will be done to determine the overall function of your heart and lungs and whether the abnormalities are permanent or reversible/correctible.
- You may not be a suitable candidate if you have had other significant cardiovascular disease, such as a stroke, blocked arteries to your legs and/or bowel, or kidney failure.
- Individuals who cannot comprehend or have a mental illness are not transplant candidates. A major factor is age. Generally, transplant operations are not performed in patients older than 60 years.
Before a transplant operation, attempts will be made to improve your medical condition with lifestyle changes and medical treatment.
- You will be given medications to improve your heart or lung condition.
- Any harmful medicines will be eliminated.
- Those who can walk are enrolled in exercise and weight-loss programs to improve their overall condition. Even if these efforts do not improve your function, losing weight and improving your exercise tolerance will help you survive and recover from the operation.
- Once selected for a transplant, every effort is made to prepare the individual for surgery and to fully maximize both the physical component and the psychologic component of the patient, in terms of function and behavior. Once selected for a transplant, you will be contacted by UNOS (United National Organ Service), which is a national agency that places patients on a list based on priority, location, and type of organ required.
Blood types as well as heart/lung size will be matched with the donor heart, that is a larger person must have a larger heart, not a small heart from a small person. Almost every organ system in the body will be evaluated to ensure that they will not affect the transplant.
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD