A Closer Look at the New Guidelines for Heart Transplant Candidates


112272200For the first time in the 10 years, the International Society for Heart Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) has updated their criteria for heart transplant eligibility. The new guidelines take into account new technologies and information that are now available to heart transplant physicians. Below are some of the key changes made to the 2006 guidelines.

Relaxed Weight Loss Goals

The ISHLT has reduced weight loss goals for overweight transplant candidates from a BMI of 30 to now only less than 35. While a slight change, the team of researchers believes that this will significantly increase the amount of people who will be able to receive a heart transplant. Evidence suggests that this difference in BMI will not affect the success of the procedure.

New Eligibility for People with Infectious Diseases

Prior to this 2016 update, people with infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, Chagas disease and tuberculous were not considered for heart transplantation. Now, while there are strict guidelines that physicians must follow, people with these diseases are not automatically disqualified for a transplant.

Psychosocial Evaluation Guidelines

The new guidelines also place an emphasis on a candidate’s support system following transplantation. Because medical compliance is so crucial to transplant success, it’s important that candidates have adequate social support to ensure adherence to outpatient guidelines. As part of the update, researchers have agreed that although a candidate with dementia or other cognitive disabilities may have adequate support, the risk of nonadherence now makes them ineligible for a transplant.

Because heart transplant technologies are constantly evolving, the outlook for a transplant candidate is also constantly improving. This recent ISHLT update reflects these improvements in technology and research abilities by allowing for an increase in the amount of people with heart failure or other conditions who may be considered for a life-saving transplant.