Outcomes in Patients Older Than 60 Years of Age Undergoing Orthotopic Heart Transplantation: An Analysis of the UNOS Database

Eric S. Weiss, Lois U. Nwakanma, Nishant D. Patel, David D. Yuh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background: Patients 60 years and older have traditionally not been considered candidates for orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT). Recent studies have shown equivalent survival between older and younger patients, leading many to question this traditional ethos. As these studies may lack significant power to draw meaningful conclusions, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database provides a unique opportunity to examine the effects of age on OHT. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the UNOS dataset to identify 14,401 first-time OHT recipients between the years 1999 and 2006. Stratification was by age into those ≥60 years and younger patients aged 18 to 59 years. Baseline demographic and clinical factors were recorded. The primary end-point was all-cause mortality during the study period. Secondary outcomes included length of hospital stay (LOS), post-operative stroke, post-operative infections, acute renal failure (ARF) and rejection within 1 year of transplant. Post-transplant survival was modeled using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared between groups using Cox proportional hazard regression. Results: Of the 14,401 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 30% (n = 4,273) were ≥60 years of age. The elderly group had higher serum creatinine levels (1.5 vs 1.3, p < 0.001), longer waitlist times (255 vs 212 days, p < 0.001), and were more likely to have hypertension (HTN; 46% vs 37%, p < 0.001) or diabetes mellitus (DM; 25% vs 20%, p < 0.001). Survival at 30 days, 1 year and 5 years was 94%, 87% and 75% for the young group, and 93%, 84% and 69% for the older group (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed age ≥60 years, donor age, ischemic time, creatinine, HTN and DM to be independent predictors of mortality. Older patients had more infections (26% vs 23%, p < 0.001), ARF (9% vs 7%, p < 0.001) and longer LOS (21 vs 19 days, p < 0.001), but had lower rates of rejection (34% vs 43%, p < 0.001) as compared with younger recipients. Conclusions: The UNOS database has provided a large multi-institutional sample examining OHT in the elderly. Although our analysis shows lower survival in patients ≥60 years of age, the cumulative 5-year survival in these patients of close to 70% is acceptable. OHT should not be restricted based on age, as encouraging long-term results exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-191
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Transplantation


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