Background: Coronary vasomotor dysfunction is a common finding in cardiac transplant recipients and is an early marker for the development of graft atherosclerosis. The present prospective study tested whether endothelial dysfunction independently predicts cardiovascular-related events and death after heart transplantation (HTx).
Methods: Functional and structural coronary changes were evaluated in 185 consecutive patients 25+/-33 months after HTx. The following potential risk factors for graft survival were assessed at baseline: hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, donor and recipient characteristics (age, gender, cytomegalovirus-infection, human leukocyte antigen-mismatch), pretransplantation diagnosis, ischemic time, treated rejection episodes, immunosuppressive regimens, and medication.The prespecified prospectively defined endpoints were cardiovascular-related events with progressive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, coronary revascularization, retransplantation, and death. Patients were followed-up for 60+/-17 months.
Results: Event-free survival for the entire group was 73% (25 cardiovascular-related events, 25 deaths). Using multivariate analysis, epicardial endothelial dysfunction (relative risk [RR] 1.97; P=0.028), angiographic cardiac allograft vasculopathy (RR 2.11; P=0.023), diabetes (RR 2.32; P=0.022), high serum levels of CyA (RR 3.54; P=0.006) and Tac (RR 6.82; P=0.002), uncommon reasons for transplantation (RR 4.69; P=0.002), and the absence of statin therapy (RR 0.33; P=0.025) were detected as independent predictors of cardiovascular-related events and death.
Conclusion: This is the first study showing that epicardial endothelial dysfunction independently predicts outcome in HTx patients providing functional and prognostic information that complete angiographic risk factor assessment.