Cardiac mechanics in heart transplant recipients with and without transplant vasculopathy

  • Evaluation of cardiac mechanics in heart transplant recipients (HTR) is of paramount importance. Assessment of strain through echocardiography is suited to describe cardiac function and might allow characterizing patients with and without transplant vasculopathy (TVP) a risk factor of impaired organ function and rejection. For this study 41 HTR immediately after and 1-3 years after transplantation were examined in a retrospective approach with 2-dimensional speckle tracking echocardiography to assess longitudinal, radial and circumferential strain and strain rate. The cohort consists of 33 men and 8 women with a median age of 54 years (1st, 3rd; 45.7, 65.3) with seven cases diagnosed with TVP during follow-up, as diagnosed by coronary angiography. The overall cohort showed an improvement of global longitudinal strain from baseline to 1 and 3 years with -14.2% (-16.9, -12.3%) to -16.1% (-17.5, -14.3%) and -16.7% (-18, -13.7%), p = 0.036. For patients developing TVP, global longitudinal strain was not different from baseline up to the maximum of 3 years -16.6% (-16.7-13.8%) to -16.4% (-17.3, -14.7%) and -17.6% (-18.7, -16.9%) with p = 0.21. Radial strain and torsion showed a trend to decrease after transplantation with time. Circumferential strain remained stable in HTR but decreased in subjects with TVP. Longitudinal Strain and strain rate showed no relevant changes in HTR with and without TVP. Radial strain and torsion declined in HTR as well as TVP patients with time. Speckle tracking imaging is useful to assess organ function in HTR, however coronary angiography is still needed to rule out TVP.

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