Trends, risk factors, and outcomes of post-operative stroke after heart transplantation: an analysis of the UNOS database

Paulino Alvarez, Takeshi Kitai, Toshihiro Okamoto, Hiromichi Niikawa, Kenneth R. McCurry, Adamantia Papamichail, Ilias Doulamis, Alexandros Briasoulis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Post-operative stroke increases morbidity and mortality after cardiac surgery. Data on characteristics and outcomes of stroke after heart transplantation (HTx) are limited. Methods and results: We conducted a retrospective analysis of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database from 2009 to 2020 to identify adults who developed stroke after orthotropic HTx. Heart transplant recipients were divided according to the presence or absence of post-operative stroke. The primary endpoint was all-cause mortality. A total of 25 015 HT recipients were analysed, including 719 (2.9%) patients who suffered a post-operative stroke. The stroke rates increased from 2.1% in 2009 to 3.7% in 2019, and the risk of stroke was higher after the implantation of the new allocation system [odds ratio 1.29, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.06–1.56, P = 0.01]. HTx recipients with post-operative stroke were older (P = 0.008), with higher rates of prior cerebrovascular accident (CVA) (P = 0.004), prior cardiac surgery (P < 0.001), longer waitlist time (P = 0.04), higher rates of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support (P < 0.001), left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) (P < 0.001), mechanical ventilation (P = 0.003), and longer ischaemic time (P < 0.001). After multivariable adjustment for recipient and donor characteristics, age, prior cardiac surgery, CVA, support with LVAD, ECMO, ischaemic time, and mechanical ventilation at the time of HTx were independent predictors of post-operative stroke. Stroke was associated with increased risk of 30 day and all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 1.49, 95% CI 1.12–1.99, P = 0.007). Conclusions: Post-operative stroke after HTx is infrequent but associated with higher mortality. Redo sternotomy, LVAD, and ECMO support at HTx are among the risk factors identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4211-4217
Number of pages7
JournalESC Heart Failure
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct


  • Heart transplantation
  • Mortality
  • Post-operative stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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