Patients who receive healthy hearts from donors 50 years of age and older appear to be as healthy as those who have received from younger patients, according to a University Of Alberta study. This study has been published in the Journal of Cardiac Surgery, March-April 2006 issue.
The study observed and analyzed the results of using heart donors 50 years of age and older and found that there were no major differences in ICU or post-operative length of hospital stay, days ventilated, or early rejection episodes. The researchers analyzed the data regarding 338 cardiac adult transplants performed at the University of Alberta Hospital between 1988 and 2002. Nearly 284 patients out of the 338 had received hearts from donors under 50 and 54.
Though the recipients of the older hearts carried a far greater risk of death within 30 days of surgery, the long-term turn-out was very close to those of younger donor hearts. Both sets of patients had very similar survival rates, at the end of 10 years.
The research is good news for patients who will need heart transplants, said one of the study's co-authors, Dr. Shaohua Wang of the University of Alberta's Division of Cardiac Surgery. "As the population ages, it can be expected that the number of patients requiring transplantations will also increase."