Heart Transplants for Patients with Congestive Heart Failure

Middle aged man smilingCongestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart isn’t able to pump blood efficiently to the rest of the body. Tissues throughout the body are thereby deprived of the oxygen-rich blood that they need to function properly. Symptoms caused by congestive heart failure generally come on slowly; they can include feeling fatigued or weak, experiencing heart palpitations, gaining weight, and experiencing swelling in the abdomen or feet. The last of these symptoms is what gives the condition its name, as “congestive” refers to the buildup of fluid in the torso or extremities.

Heart failure has been linked to many causes, including uncontrolled high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (CAD), heart attack, viral infections, certain types of arrhythmias, and others. Patients who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure can generally control their symptoms by making lifestyle changes, taking medication, and working with their physician to treat the underlying causes. However, heart failure is usually chronic, and the condition tends to worsen over time. If a patient is experiencing significant heart failure, a heart transplant may become an option.

At Tampa General Hospital, we perform heart transplants for adult patients with congestive heart failure who have a significant risk of mortality within the next year if a transplant isn’t performed. There are many other criteria also considered by our transplant center team and our Medical Review Board (MRB) as they decide if a patient should be placed on the transplant waiting list. All potential transplant patients are evaluated individually. When patients undergo heart transplants, the prognosis is generally positive; nationwide, 84.36 percent of patients are alive three years after the surgery. At TGH, our numbers are slightly better, with 86.36 percent of our heart transplant patients living longer than three years after their operation, according to the most recent statistics (July 2015) from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. People who are experiencing congestive heart failure can be referred for evaluation to Tampa General Hospital’s Heart Transplant Program by a physician or cardiologist who fills out a cardiothoracic transplant referral form.

To learn more about our heart transplant program, contact the referral coordinator at 1-800-505-7769 (press 1 for the heart transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator). You can also call the coordinator directly at (813) 844-4088.