The researchers found that a majority of patients who had systolic heart failure, in which the heart's left ventricle was weak and not pumping blood efficiently, had a dramatic recovery after their kidney transplant.
"These findings are contrary to conventional thinking that a kidney transplant may put additional strain on the hearts of patients with systolic heart failure,” says the lead author of the study, Ravinder K. Wali, M.D., a nephrologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
"Our study also found that systolic heart failure was more likely to be reversed if patients received a transplant soon after they began dialysis to treat their kidney failure,” he adds.
The study followed 103 patients. Prior to their transplant, all of the patients had congestive heart failure with a left ventricular ejection fraction of 40 percent or less. The researchers assessed the heart's pumping ability of the patients at six and twelve months and at a later follow-up visit after successful transplantation.
Overall, after a kidney transplant, the heart's pumping ability improved in more than 86 percent of the patients. For 70 percent of the patients, pumping ability returned to normal or close to normal following the transplant. Even more dramatic, the majority of the patients with the worst heart failure regained significant cardiac function following the transplant, according to Wali.
"Our conclusion,” says Wali, "is that your best chance of survival, if you have both kidney failure and heart failure, is to receive a kidney transplant as soon as possible.” He says this group of patients should be encouraged to seek a living kidney donor since the national waiting time for a deceased donor kidney transplant can average three to five years, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Maryland Medical Center