Depressive symptoms at 1 year after surgery increase the risk of cardiac allograft vasculopathy and mortality in heart transplant recipients: A prospective cohort study

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2021 Jul-Aug:71:20-26. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2021.03.008. Epub 2021 Mar 26.


Objective: To investigate the impact of depressive symptoms at 1-year post-heart transplant (HTx) on cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) and mortality.

Methods: We performed a single-center prospective cohort study of patients 1-year post-HTx consecutively enrolled between January 2001 and September 2015, and followed-up until November 2020. Kaplan-Meier and uni- and multivariate cox proportional hazards models were used to investigate the impact of depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) on all-cause mortality and clustered CAV events, i.e. time to angiographically detected CAV, revascularizations, retransplantation/CAV-mortality.

Results: 23.7% (45/190) (median age 53.5 [IQR 19.3], 77% men) had mild to severe depressive symptoms (BDI 10-63). Forty-four patients (23.2%) died during a 10.4 years median follow-up. Depressive symptoms (BDI ≥ 10) increased all-cause mortality risk (HR = 2.52 [1.35-4.71], p = .004), even after adjusting for confounders (HR = 2.95 [1.50-5.80], p = .002). CAV data were available for 156 patients. During a 9.9 years median follow-up, 51 patients (32.7%) developed CAV or revascularization of which 8 received at least a second revascularization, 3 were re-transplanted, and 9 died from CAV-related causes. Analysis showed a significant increased CAV-risk among depressed patients (HR = 2.27 [1.10-4.69], p = .026), even in adjusted models (HR = 2.25 [1.01-4.98, p = .047).

Conclusion: Depressive symptoms at 1-year post-HTx unfavorably impact mortality and CAV, highlighting the need for interventions.

Keywords: Cardiac allograft vasculopathy; Depressive symptoms; Heart transplantation; Mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Allografts
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases*
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies