Heart transplant could cause kidney failure thereby requiring dialysis. Prior problem with the kidney increases the risk of failure.
Rejection happens because your immune system attacks your transplanted heart. Your immune system sees your new heart as invading cells and can damage them. To prevent this, you will take anti-rejection medications, also called immunosuppression medications. You will need to take these medications every day for the rest of your life to protect your new heart. Despite taking anti-rejection medications, rejection can still occur. It is often reversible as long as it detected and treated quickly. If the rejection is detected your treatment plan may include additional medications, adjusting your current medications, and other treatments. Unfortunately, immunosuppressive medications also decrease the body’s ability to fight infection. Your weekly clinic visits will allow the transplant team to monitor for rejection.
Acute rejection happens within six months of the transplantation, while chronic rejection happens when the new heart develops scar tissue over time.
Despite taking anti-rejection medications, you may still get rejection. Acute rejection happens within the first six months of the transplant. Typically, most transplant patients have rejection at least once. We diagnose a rejection by a heart biopsy. Signs of rejection include fever, chills, chest pain, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhoea.
Chronic rejection happens over time, the tissues of the new heart is scarred and it cannot be reversed. We may change medication to slow down the process of rejection, however, there is no permanent treatment for chronic rejection. Over time this causes the blood vessels of the new heart to get hard, stiff, and narrow. It could eventually lead to a heart attack.