Cardiac evaluation of liver transplant candidates

Mandell, Mercedes Susan; Lindenfeld, JoAnn; Mei-Yung Tsou; Zimmerman, Michael; Sugawara, Yasuhiko
June 2008
World Journal of Gastroenterology;6/14/2008, Vol. 14 Issue 22, p3445
Academic Journal
Physicians previously thought that heart disease was rare in patients with end stage liver disease. However, recent evidence shows that the prevalence of ischemic heart disease and cardiomyopathy is increased in transplant candidates compared to most other surgical candidates. Investigators estimate that up to 26% of all liver transplant candidates have at least one critical coronary artery stenosis and that at least half of these patients will die perioperatively of cardiac complications. Cardiomyopathy also occurs in greater frequency. While all patients with advanced cardiac disease have defects in cardiac performance, a larger than expected number of patients have classical findings of dilated, restrictive and hypertropic cardiomyopathy. This may explain why up to 56% of patients suffer from hypoxemia due to pulmonary edema following transplant surgery. There is considerable controversy on how to screen transplant candidates for the presence of heart disease. Questions focus upon, which patients should be screened and what tests should be used. This review examines screening strategies for transplant candidates and details the prognostic value of common tests used to identify ischemic heart disease. We also review the physiological consequences of cardiomyopathy in transplant candidates and explore the specific syndrome of "cirrhotic cardiomyopathy".


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