Age-Dependent Impact of Pre-Transplant Intensive Care Unit Stay on Mortality in Heart Transplant Recipients

Trent Sims, Dmitry Tumin, Don Hayes, Jr., Joseph D. Tobias


Background: Heart transplantation (HTx) is a treatment option for refractory end-stage heart failure. Severe illness requiring pre-transplant intensive care unit (ICU) stay may be a risk factor for diminished post-transplant survival, but this association is surprisingly inconsistent in recent studies. To clarify the significance of ICU stay as a risk factor for heart transplant outcomes, we aimed to define if patient age was a factor in which ICU stay was predictive of survival after HTx.

Methods: De-identified data were obtained on isolated first-time HTx performed during the years 2006 - 2015 from the UNOS Registry. Nine age groups were defined. The primary outcome was 1-year post-transplant mortality. Cox proportional hazard regression estimated unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratio (HR) associated with pre-transplant ICU stay in each age group.

Results: The analysis included 19,508 patients (9% deceased within 1 year). In the overall cohort, pre-transplant ICU stay was associated with increased hazard of 1-year mortality (HR = 1.3; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2 - 1.4; P < 0.001); but further univariate analysis showed a greater hazard of 1-year mortality associated with ICU stay in infants (HR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.5 - 3.2; P < 0.001). However, the adjusted analysis found that adults ages 40 - 49 had the highest statistically significant hazard of 1-year mortality (HR = 1.5; 95% CI: 1.1 - 2.1; P = 0.011).

Conclusions: Our study established age variation in the association between ICU stay and survival after HTx, with this association being strongest among adults, 40 to 49 years of age, undergoing HTx. Previous data suggesting decreased survival in infants may be related to the increased use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation as a mechanical cardiac assist rather than ventricular assist devices.

Cardiol Res. 2019;10(3):157-164


Heart transplant; Cardiology; Intensive care medicine; Transplantation

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