More people with restrictive cardiomyopathy get heart transplants

14th January 2016

The numbers of people with restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) being given a heart transplant has trebled since the 1990s, says the International Society for Heart Lung Transplantation.

In its 10-year update on listing criteria for heart transplant, the organisation says that 0.7 per cent of patients were given a transplant then, but in the 2000s it was 2.2 per cent.

It recommends that people with RCM and severe heart failure symptoms should be referred for transplant evaluation but it says that the use of left ventricular assist devices (heart pumps) could not be recommended as a standard procedure, but the pumps and a total artificial heart could be considered in highly selected cases and at experienced treatment centres.

RCM causes increased stiffness in the heart’s ventricles leading pumping problems. Although fewer RCM patients have heart transplants compared to other types of cardiomyopathy, the proportion of patients with RCM receiving a transplant has steadily increased, says the update.

As opposed to heart failure secondary to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), treatment to improve symptoms and outcomes in people with RCM is difficult. Because of this, heart transplant may be the best option for patients with RCM, says the update.

Observations from registries of children with RCM showed a higher need for transplant than in DCM or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, said the update. 

In other registry series, RCM patients who had had a heart transplant showed similar survival rates at one, five, and ten years to those of other people having heart transplants, except in people who also had amyloid heart disease and RCM due to radiation therapy.

The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) is a not-for-profit, professional organisation for improving the care of patients with advanced heart or lung disease through transplantation, mechanical support and innovative therapies.

It has over 3,000 members from over 45 countries, including cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and transplant coordinators.

For more details of the update see here